Sunday, 30 September 2018

Things That NIFT Didn't Teach Me About Styling

When my NIFT course ended back in April, I felt that I've somehow become invincible and that there are tons of styling projects coming my way. Just after getting my degree, I got an internship at Cosmopolitan Magazine in the fashion department. When I assisted for my first editorial shoot was when I realized that I had wasted 7 months of my life studying something that didn't really need any bookish knowledge. Now, I sure did make up my mind with regard to the career path I wanted to opt for but I didn't know that it would cost me a good sum of money and plethora sleepless nights.
For starters, my curriculum did not involve any practical experience. To top it up, the faculty never shared their personal experiences and the shortcomings they faced, with the students. I was one of those students who were at a disadvantage because I did not come from a fashion background. Those who came from that background knew many terms and tricks that I didn't even know existed.

One stylist in particular at Cosmopolitan magazine helped me gain a lot of practical experience of how things work around. She taught me plenty of tricks like how to keep the sole of the shoes neat and intact, how you should always, always have extra safety pins and what all needs to be put in your styling kit. Yes, you HAVE to have a styling kit which includes all the necessary items that one can need during a shoot.
When I assisted celebrity stylists for shoots, they taught me how to work with celebrities. It may look quite glamorous and exciting but in reality, you have to take care of the small-small wants of celebrities along with doing your actual styling job.
The most important part about styling which NIFT never bothered to even mention was that it is a super risky career line. It is risky because when a stylist is sourcing for a shoot, they are borrowing clothes or jewelry from a brand. If even one piece goes missing from the borrowed lot, the stylist has to pay the money from his/her pocket. If we are sourcing from a local or high-street brand then the items are still affordable but when we are sourcing from luxury brands, the prices are a bomb.
A stylist has to know major things like draping a saree, tying complicated shoes, using pins without hurting the model, et cetera. You obviously cannot know so much from attending a three-hour lecture, thrice a week. But you do expect to get the gist of how this career path works. However, we were unfortunate enough to never gain that kind of knowledge. Many of my classmates from NIFT weren’t able to land any styling jobs because we never had any job fairs lined up (which should have ideally been the case).

I've attended plenty of seminars where leading fashion stylists are openly saying that a budding stylist doesn't need a degree or bookish knowledge to opt for this profession. You simply have to go with your gut feeling. If you ask me, I would say that there is no harm in attaining the basic know-how but what will keep you floating in this line is indeed your gut feeling.


-Shweghna.