Madhuri Dixit, Katrina Kaif and Sonakshi Sinha are just some of the names which dazzle up Bollywood couturier Reza Shariffi’s portfolio. Be it award functions, movie promotions or film costumes, here is someone who is clearly an expert in his field. From designing Kareena Kapoor’s emerald green lehenga for the Big Star Entertainment awards, he has also styled Kangana Ranaut’s look in her famous film ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ and the more recent ‘Rajjo’. Here is an exclusive interaction with him by Neha Chauhan

When you did first realize that you wanted to plunge into the world of costume designing?
It was not like I ‘realized’ that I wanted to design costumes but it was more like ‘I think I want to design costumes’. This happened when a designer bought my outfit to style a top heroine. When I saw the outfit on screen, I decided to pursue costume designing professionally.

You have designed for many celebrities. What are the things you need to know other than the measurements?
Besides personal likes and dislikes of the artist one also needs to know their comfort and discomfort zones. Being a team player is crucial in a job like costume designing where isolation is unimaginable. Tolerance and patience will stand one in good stead.

Celebrities are known to be very picky and choosy while deciding what to wear. Have you faced any situation where celebs have refused to wear what you have designed?
If that happens, it is a misfortune. I believe in being well prepared. I create a look only after everything is sorted out and absolute clarity is established. It leaves very little scope for rejection but in the same breath let me assure you that I never shut doors for improvisations. I believe creating a costume is very much like acting, there is always a scope for evolution.

Recently we saw Shraddha Kapoor adorning your design in FBB Femina Miss India 2014. How was the experience with her?
Oh the experience was very sweet. Shraddha is an intelligent girl and was very nice to work with. I would love to do a period film with her. Her Indian-ness is very endearing.

What is the design philosophy that goes behind your pieces?
Philosophy is simple ‘Who’ is wearing my garment and for what purpose?

One statement design that is close to your heart and why?
I love ethnic and authentic costumes because I feel they not only represent the hard work and imagination of people who created it but represents culture of the wearer. These styles have evolved over centuries and provide a distinct identity to a population, region. They enchant me to the core.

How is designing for oneself different from designing for others? What is the idea that differentiates the two?
For a special occasion I would create a garment for me. The idea that differentiates the two is the joy I get when my creation makes my client flash a happy smile.

Our industry is full of talented people like you. But there are only few who achieve name and fame and others never come into limelight. What is your take on it?
Who am I to comment on this? The phenomenon of limelight versus oblivion is as true as the sun rising every morning. This is a harsh reality for all professions and professionals, from doctors to designers and actors to engineers. One should pray and be strong to let go of a chosen path and try something else at the right time. A success story largely hinges on a delicate balance between perseverance and pragmatism; here ego definitely needs to take a backseat. All in all, how many Lata Mangeshkars or Audrey Hepburns can ever be there?

Everybody learns from the mistakes. Did you make any mistake and what have you learnt from it?
It is not only ‘mistakes’ one should learn from. I personally feel, to err is human and mistake is a strong word. I have learnt a lot from my life experiences. Patience, tolerance, trust (and so on), grow with an individual as personality traits and they reach you where you are at a given point in life. Strong belief systems and unflinching support of loved ones not only see you through the rough patches of life but also teach you to be humble and thankful to the almighty.