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Right at the onset of his career, Rocky S rose to unparalleled heights with star-truffled shows, styling A-List celebrities worldwide, designing for Shoppers Stop, launching Rocky Star Cocktail Bar and much, much more! But whomever his audience, Rocky S' love for life is as bright and upbeat as his starry front rows. Today, he is proud recipient of ET Business Icon 2019. And, as his star continues to rise, he remains humble and down to earth. In conversation with designer Rocky STAR on the eve of his much-anticipated showing at Laconic 2019.


When did it all begin?


Designing is something that I'm very passionate about. It's a craft that has spoken to me since I was very young and I knew this was something I wanted to pursue. I started out like any aspiring designer — graduated from college and worked in the industry for a couple of years. The defining moment in my career was the day I opened my very own store and had my brand name put out there. From zero, I have built my brand and come a long way... the journey has been spectacular and special. Everything I'm doing today is part of a creative process; it is challenging at times but that's what motivates me and encourages me to push my limits. Without challenges and difficulties it's possible to reach a point of stagnation and monotony. So it's essential to keep pushing yourself, testing your limits and pushing your boundaries creatively. One must step out of the comfort zone from time to time and explore opportunities!''


Do you ever feel it's too much or is challenge an adrenaline rush to push the boundaries of creativity?


I love to take up challenging tasks. I like to keep experimenting with new things. It allows me to push my boundaries of creativity to new level every time.


Did you have a specific moment when everything changed?


There have been a lot of moments such as opening my first store, dressing up Hollywood stars Beyoncé and Paris Hilton, designing and styling for more than 300 Bollywood films, participating in Milan and London Fashion Week. They all have taught me something valuable.


What is important—commercial appeal or creative force?


When I create something it's a reflection of my thoughts or something I'm inspired by. It's a realization of those thoughts into something concrete and wearable. Commercial appeal comes when people begin to understand and like the the design aesthetic. However, a designer's creative force is staying true to his aesthetic and that cannot be compromised to gain retail appeal. Both are equally important — two lines that run parallel to each other but never meet.


What is more important when you showcase a collection — the theatrics of a dress or is it about wearability?


Wearability is of course key, but I do like my ensembles to have some drama and make a statement; I like to play around with my garments be it with silhouettes or texturing!!


How do you keep it fresh season after season?


In today's ever changing fashion scene, one has to keep coming up with something fresh and new. One has to always be aware of what is new as today's youth is well connected through digital media. My love for travel, exploring new places and meeting new people always inspires me to create something new. I draw inspiration out of my own experiences and have a different story to tell a global audience each season. Today, the point we are in the world, it has become such a small place. We are exposed to so much and there is easy exchange and access to new and different ideas. Trends from other countries make their way here and I believe some of our trends are followed overseas as well. My designs see classic western silhouettes rooted in traditional Indian embroidery that appeal equally to both my audiences


Can you share your feeling on the difference between Indian and overseas audiences in terms of the reception of your collections?


I've received immense appreciation and love for my collections, be it in India or overseas. Be it showcasing my collection in Milan, London or in different states of India, people have always loved the collections. Wherever I have been I have received applauds from all for my collections.


Which celebrity who wore your garments left the biggest impression on you?


There have been a lot of celebrities who have worn my garments be it from Hollywood or Bollywood. I have designed for a lot of them from Beyoncé to Paris Hilton, Katrina Kaif to Bipasha Basu, Akshay Kumar to Hrithik Roshan and many many more; it's been a thrilling journey.  All of them have fully justified my clothes… I can't pick any one.


Rocky, when you were outlining a strategy for styling Rajnikant in 'Robot 2', what did you keep in mind?


Shankar sir had a vision as to how he wanted his characters to evolve in the film. Every single character is complex and they undergo immense transformation in the film. We did a lot of research before we started working on the clothes, and I started developing Rajnikant's wardrobe accordingly, taking care of every minute detail. In fact, I put in a lot of effort to fully justify the wardrobe of the character Rajnikant plays. It was a great experience!! He was extremely patient and cooperated with whatever I gave him to wear.  Working with him was like painting on a blank canvas. He was very cooperative and tried on each outfit I had made for him.  A person of his stature and still so down to earth is rare!!


Do you have a confidant that you can turn to or a mentor?


My family is the one I can always turn to whatever might be the situation. They have always stood by me and supported me. They are my real strength.


What's the biggest misconception that Indian women have about Fashion?


I think the biggest misconception is that being fashionable means you have to wear skimpy, revealing clothes. Fashion is about comfort and acceptance of your body!! Wearing what looks good on you — that doesn't necessarily entail skin show! That said, the three must-have items in a Indian woman's closet is a sari, little black dress and well-fitted denims! Wear what suits your body and makes you feel happy. And, one thing all women SHOULD wear is confidence!


Lastly... looking back at your career graph... what is something you wish you knew when you first started out in the industry? What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?


I knew the industry was a scary competitive place; what I didn't know was how accepting it is of new talent or a new voice. My advice to my younger self or any aspiring designer would be — while the fashion industry is accepting, it will also put you through moments of self-doubt; don't lose sense of your aesthetic and your voice in the midst of trying to fit in. You will fit in better when you stand out. Just keep going. It can only get better.

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