Joshna Johnson Thomas is an upcoming personal stylist in Kerala who has dressed celebrities like Isha Talwar. As someone with a management degree in Human Resources, fashion wasn’t Joshna’s first career choice. Apart from styling celebrities and brides, Joshna also trains people on how to up their style quotient. Joshna has been invited by Pegasus to address Miss Asia contestants in Bengaluru and impart fashion advice to them. In a conversation with Meryl Garcia, Joshna talks about her love for couture and the latest trends this season.
When did you start JJ Styling?
I wanted to spend a few months at home with my parents. So while I was in Dubai in 2015, I came across this course by Michelle Sterling of the Sterling Style Academy. She goes to Milan, Paris, Dubai, etc. to train people to become personal stylists. Since I was in Dubai at the same time, I enrolled for the class. I got certified as a stylist. I came back to Cochin and contacted some photographers and the ball just started rolling! It’s been a year-and-a-half since I’ve been styling people.
How does the process work?
Technically, I’m a personal stylist. I meet the person first and talk to them in detail. They have to fill out a form. Accordingly, depending on what their needs are, I go to their home and rearrange their wardrobe. Or I take them out for shopping, tell them what styles and cuts suit their taste, body, and colour. There are also people who call me for events, if they want me to pick out something. Kerala is a market where this industry hasn’t picked up. So, I have ventured in to wedding styling. I advice brides on what colours look best on them, how they can bring in current fashion into their wardrobe, how to team up their outfit with jewellery, which hairstyle suits them, what kind of make up they should go in for, etc. Basically, I take care of everything from head to toe. This is how I’ve been functioning so far.
What are the challenges you face in a market like Kerala?
I am very methodical. For instance, I look at the magazine the person is being featured in before deciding on the outfit. If it’s a Grihalakshmi, then the person cannot be dressed in “hot” looking clothes. It has to be something the readers of that magazine will accept. Everyone has their own opinion here, when it comes to what they want to wear. You can copy fashion but you shouldn’t copy style. You need to have your own style. Sometimes, people want Deepika Padukone’s winged eyeliner look or they want to wear a short dress like Katrina Kaif. The challenge is that people have to accept who they are. Instead of being a Katrina or a Deepika, they could create their own style. Fashion is not a big thing in Cochin. But it is picking up. Hari Anand used to be the only Kerala-based designer. Now there are so many of them.
Who do you think is the best dressed celebrity in Kerala?
I think Dulquer Salman is smartly dressed. He also has a stylist. He’s bringing out his own quirkiness in the way he dresses. No one was wearing colourful shirts for a long time. I think Dulquer has changed that. He brought it in, without being very shy about it.
Who is your favourite Kerala-based designer?
Matin Mac. He was working under Hari Anand. He has a style of his own and that is important. His work is very different.
What is your personal style mantra?
I think you can never go wrong in jackets and stoles. I like to cover myself up a lot. These accessories like jackets and scarves should be given more emphasis. A nice jacket can uplift that black dress and make it really funky.
Tell me about one trend that is really in this season?
The off-shoulders are making a comeback. A lot off-shoulder salwars, dresses, tops, blouses and all are big at the moment. Though it is thought to be something that not everyone can pull off, if styled right, it can definitely look good.
What are your future plans?
I’m relatively new to this field and I’m still learning. But, from what I have observed, I just wish people in Kerala are willing to experiment more and step out of their comfort zone when it comes to dressing.
Joshna can be contacted on her Facebook page.