Anyone remotely interested in fashion knows the power the name Kalyani Saha Chawla wields. From being an exporter to being the face of one of the most well known luxury houses in the world, it's sheer hard work that has put her in such a position. Christian Dior India's Vice President of Marketing & Communications, she frequently makes it to the best dressed lists in the country. How many people today can call Bollywood actress and style maven Kangana Ranaut a friend? Kalyani not only does that but has made the Queen actress the quintessential Dior India girl.
"I have personally been following Kangana since Day One. I always found her to have that little edge which nobody else in Bollywood had during those days. It's been a while since she's been around and she's an amazing actress but she is someone who knows her style. Given the fact that she never forgets her roots and where she comes from, her sense of fashion is almost astounding. I can call her a friend today and I find that her intelligence kind of permeates into the way she dresses. She's a chameleon. She takes fashion risks which a lot of girls don't." Fashion risks--now we are talking. Who can forget Kangana's appearance at Rakesh Roshan's birthday bash with bleached eyebrows.
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For Kalyani, dealing with the stars probably comes with its own share of tantrums, "Fortunately we have had a great relationship with Bollywood and I think the girls are quite aware of what suits them or what doesn't. All our sample sizes or the celebrity wardrobe that we have won't be a size 40--a normal human being would be that size and there's nothing wrong with that."
With the paparazzi training their lenses on celebs all day, what with their airport appearances being under scrutiny, most of them (barring Kangana Ranaut) depend upon stylists to put the right look together. Kalyani adds, "We work with quite a few celeb stylists. These young girls are amazing and they are little celebrities by themselves today. It's staggering to see their popularity on Instagram and Twitter."
As more luxury brands continue to make a beeline for India, the scope of work in the space is on a rise. What advice would she offer to anyone aiming to work at Dior India? "It depends on which capacity you want to work in but my main advice is to go out there and educate yourself. I would encourage everyone to join this growing industry. All young girls today probably want to get into the luxury space. It's so prestigious to be having that visiting card that says Dior and it always brings out a reaction, I know that. There's a lot of hard work and more than anything else it's totally knowledge based. Just because you are interested in fashion doesn't mean that you can come and work for Dior. It may be a job for a fashion brand but it's like any other job. For example, if you are doing marketing which is my job, you need to have relevant experience. I have past experience in the fashion industry. I worked with four magazines, I was an exporter so my rich wealth of experience is what culminated into this job. At the end of the day it's business and I have an understanding of it. Today I might like food, but that doesn't mean that I can open a restaurant."
Besides the hours of effort she has put in, climbing the ladder as a woman hasn't been hard for Kalyani. She signs off, citing the importance of professionalism in the industry, "You have to be professional and you have to know your job. If you are good at your job then that's all that it takes. A good looking face is only going to take you so far, but if you have nothing to say for yourself then that's it. Period. Nobody has time anymore. Today you can open a door, but to keep it open is what is your sustaining power. The way you conduct yourself in itself gets you the respect you deserve."
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