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Verve People
May 01, 2017

Meet College Sweethearts Kazim And Priyanka Who Are Bound Together By Their Love For Fashion

Text by Huzan Tata. Photograph by Manasi Sawant.

Better known as styling brand ‘The Vainglorious’, they talk about their passion, and penchant for rock and roll

Little did these college sweethearts know that their love for all things sartorial would lead to them dressing some of Hindi cinema’s most dapper heroes. Priyanka Shahani and Kazim Delhiwala began The Vainglorious around two years ago, after styling an actor during his film promotion tour. “Every time fashion weeks happened, we’d discuss them like nothing else in the world mattered. I’m a cynic; I didn’t want to work in a field that was my hobby because I’d eventually start hating it! We actually said ‘lets give it a shot, if we like it we’ll stick around’. We’ve been really lucky to have been at the right place at the right time and got such opportunities,” says Delhiwala.

The couple is understandably nervous in front of the camera, but ask them to face one another instead of the lens and the calm automatically sets in (“Let’s look into each other’s eyes and pretend we’re still in love!” is the kind of banter we saw at the shoot). And when you ask them about fashion, their faces light up. “There was no one in our film industry that was focusing on menswear. And we wanted to highlight that,” explains Shahani. “A lot of men feel like they don’t want to labour over what they’re going to wear. We wanted to dispel the myth that men shouldn’t. Hence, Vainglorious!” adds Delhiwala. While they’ve worked with stars including Aditya Roy Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput and Aamir Khan, it was dressing Ranbir Kapoor for the promotions of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil that made them the talk of the town. Showcasing relatively lesser-known labels in the Indian market seems to be their trademark. “We do a lot of research and are interested in designers from different parts of the world, not just Milan and Paris. We love Austrian and German designers,” says Shahani. Belstaff, Peter Non, Guidi, Lost and Found Ria Dunn and O’Keeffe are a few brands they frequent. They’re loyal to Tom Ford and Ermenegildo Zegna for the classics, and love Antar Agni when it comes to Indian outfits.

True to many couples of their generation, they dispel any chance of one-upmanship, explaining that there’s no space for it when working with your spouse. “I think it’s easier to overcome differences, since there’s no ego hassle. You’re willing to admit that you’re wrong,” explains Delhiwala. “Usually he’s wrong!” the wife pipes in, to much laughter. Being a couple helps maintain a certain dynamic at work too, they agree. “Nothing much has changed over the last few years — we still discuss fashion like it’s brain surgery. I think that’s the advantage really, that it doesn’t feel like work!”

Taking inspiration from the ’50s and ’60s, most of their looks are reminiscent of the rock and roll era. “Though once in a while we clean our boys up. We give them a suit and tie and make them look like Wall Street bankers,” laughs Delhiwala. Their personal tastes are inspired by the same generation, with Priyanka obsessed with rockabilly style and her better-half loving glam goth, or as he calls it, “dressing for the apocalypse”. And do they take one another’s opinions on what to wear, we ask. “All. The. Time!” exclaims Shahani. “I get yelled at for not having a strong enough opinion about her clothes!” jokes the husband.

With actor Justin Theroux and singer Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys on their client bucket list, they’re hoping to expand their oeuvre within the industry. “We were flirting with the idea of doing films, but we’re not entirely convinced. We like what we’re doing now.” The question remains though, that in a time where people have so much access to the latest trends, where do they fit in? “People confuse style and fashion. Two individuals could be wearing the same thing and still look completely different. To break it down, it’s about how many buttons you put on, how far you zip it up, how you cuff your trousers, whether you tuck your T-shirt in, where you tuck it…these things come naturally. We can only do so much, it’s really up to you to look good in it. Style will always be important and you’ll never be able to channel it from anywhere else. It’ll have to come from within.”

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