Off The Rack: Akshay Tyagi Talks About His Cannes Journey And Styling Bollywood’s Finest

Akshay Tyagi

It was maybe a decade ago when I watched Krrish 3 in theatres, enamoured by the otherworldly phenomenon that is Hrithik Roshan. The all-black superhero outfit and saviour complex sure swayed us audiences in the right direction, which brings me to my recent rendezvous with stylist Akshay Tyagi, the creative force behind his look.

Now responsible for outfitting the dapper half of the male population in Bollywood, Akshay Tyagi’s remarkable ascent has made him a Cannes regular of sorts, apart from being the numero uno stylist for many biggies. “A recurring phone call is actually the biggest validation you need,” he says jokingly, but the brazen truth that accompanies this made my fondness for him multiply instantly.

Here’s our #OffTheRack chat with the acclaimed fashion stylist:

ELLE: Tell us about your styling journey, from the beginning.

Akshay Tyagi: I got into full-fledged styling essentially just about a year before I moved back from Canada. I used to live there, I was working as a visual merchandiser/ store manager at a premium boutique run by Ralph Lauren Company. I’d also just dabbled while I was at an art school in a fashion and textile program in Canada. I did a short film with Ishaan Nair, which was his college project at that time. And then both of us kind of united. We’ve known each other since we were 12. So, it’s been quite crazy. This short film had Saba Azad and Karuna Parekh. So, since that connection, once I was moving back to India in 2011, I had just dabbled with styling, I’d done this film, and I was like, let’s see what it’s all about here in Bombay.

So, I did a couple of shoots with Ishaan, who connected me to Nitasha Gaurav. I did a little bit of the first few days of Ranveer’s arrival with Nitasha and was later connected to Anaita after I did a project with Kailash Kher for some music videos. And then I think within two months of moving back, I thankfully had just about the right people to guide me, to connect me to Anaita. I did about 11 years with Anaita at Style Cell, her agency. So, it was the assistant for the first few years and was independently repped by Style Cell. Primarily, I styled Hrithik Roshan on Krrish 3 and Bang Bang, and a lot of his other work, and then led to other menswear, Irfan, Varun, Siddharth, Mahesh Babu.

ELLE: Three core skills to make it as a stylist in India.

Akshay Tyagi: Patience, perseverance and a lot of clarity.

ELLE: What was your ‘I made it’ moment that set things in motion for you professionally?

Akshay Tyagi: I personally don’t think I’ve made it yet because it’s always an evolving journey. I have had some great moments like working on a global campaign for Hrithik for Rado, which was very exciting for me. I think that validation from the industry is always important. And sometimes I think just a recurring phone call is actually the biggest validation you need.

ELLE: A Hollywood celebrity you’d love to style and why.

Akshay Tyagi: Tilda Swinton, because she’s just so cool. And with men’s clientele, I think there’s something quite exciting about Maluma.

ELLE: How would you describe your personal style?

Akshay Tyagi: Oh, God. I’m actually quite functional and practical. I pretty much used to wear checked shirts and jeans while I was growing up. And then now it’s a little more printed shirt sort of a layer and basics like Uniqlo. And comfy shoes. Yeah, quite straightforward that way. But when I do dress up now, I do a little make a little more effort. I’m not going to sell some lie. If I buy H&M, I wear H&M. But I also want to buy one investment piece that I keep. Like I have a perfect pair of Margiela boots that I have worn now for like 10 years. It is what it is.

ELLE: Take us through some exciting projects you’re currently working on / are looking forward to being a part of, in the near future.

Akshay Tyagi: I mean, Cannes this year was exciting. My third year. First year what happened kind of accidentally happened. The second year also kind of had the same effect. I think it was all about time and place or something somehow. This time I pre-empted that I would be there first, before taking on anything per se. There were a couple of key looks with Diipa Khosla and Ankush Bahuguna. So as a male beauty influencer, a young voice, I think it’s important to support that. Nobody’s beyond styling services.

Also, my main thing is my costume design work which fuels me the most. So I’ve worked on a project with Gattu Kapoor (Abhishek Kapoor) as the director, which has been absolutely revolutionary for me to work on. And separately, Bun Tikki by Faraz Ansari has been quite incredible for me to be a part of.

ELLE: Three songs you have on repeat.

Akshay Tyagi: Bad Guy by Billie Eilish. Toxic by Britney Spears. And actually really randomly, Vivaldi. Something from him.

Also Read: 8 Of The Most Mind-Boggling Locations Chanel Has Staged Their Fashion Shows At

- Digital Fashion Writer


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