It’s not every day that you hear about a senior fashion editor packing her/his bag to go back to school. Definitely not in India. So when Nirali Mehta, a well-established name in the Indian fashion industry and a dear friend, told me that she’s in New York for further studies, it came as a pleasant news. After clocking in over a decade as a design assistant, magazine stylist, and an independent consultant while raising two great daughters, she felt it was time to get some formal education in her field of passion. Mehta landed a spot at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, no surprise by any means, and soon after she was backstage at New York Fashion Week Fall Winter 2018 shows. Tough life.
“2018 started with a whole lot of surprises. The biggest one found me in New York in the midst of a brutal winter. For a true blood Bombay-ite where 18 degrees Celsius had me pull out those boots and pashminas, I got here not well equipped at all. And then to be attending and working backstage for some of the most prestigious designers at NYFW meant a whole new wardrobe was the need of the hour.”
Talking about her experience at FIT, she said, “It’s been amazing. The faculty here are renowned specialists in their respective fields and the coursework is very global. My fellow classmates are from around the world and their experiences – so diverse. Its a great platform to network with like-minded professionals. Besides FIT, meeting Bibhu Mohapatra and styling Hailey Baldwin have been the highlights of my journey so far.”
I vividly remember meeting Nirali at (Wills) India Fashion Week back in 2011. I pegged her – a tall, poised woman dressed to the nines and a mother to two, to be a fashion editor only to realize she had recently joined the magazine as a stylist. She had no qualms about starting afresh then, she has no qualms now. Having changed my career route a few times myself, it’s something I relate to. If you work in a creative field, it’s important to hit refresh every now and then. Sometimes it’s about finding a new passion, sometimes it’s about seeking a new perspective. For Nirali, it’s the latter.
“Between Mumbai and New York, the basic process and fundamentals of styling are the same. The one major difference, however, is the professionalism and focus on every aspect of styling. Each role is clearly defined and each person focuses on and is a specialist in that field only.”
We ended the conversation with Nirali picking out her favourite shows from New York Fashion Week Fall Winter 2018. Here they are –
- EFM (Engineered for Motion) by designer Donrad Duncan. A 2016 Rising Star Award-winner.
2. Adeam by Japanese/American designer Hanako Maeda
3. Bibhu Mohapatra. For years, he has been the host and mentor for Cotton Incorporated design competition. He is set to be costume designer for a major film and has a jewelry line launching soon.
4. Tibi. What’s not to love.
5. Zadig & Voltaire, a French label.
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Charu Gaur is the founder/editor of Runway Square. Don’t ask her to meet over tea or coffee. She’s currently working on her selfie game which recently went for a toss. Tips are welcome.