Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been ruling over the Cannes Film Festival ever since she smashed open the doors for Indian talent with her debut appearance in 2002.

A decade later, many thought she might lose her crown to a new generation of Indian stars lighting up the red carpet at the annual festival, but like a warrior, the icon continued to get the most attention and one of the main reasons for that in the past five years has been ace stylist Aastha Sharma.

This year the dream team of Aishwarya and Aastha created two more striking looks with a gold futuristic Jean-Louis Sabaji Couture gown and classic Ashi Studio runway piece.
Keeping Aishwarya at the very top in Cannes is one of the many amazing achievements for the fashion expert, who has worked with several high-profile stars across the years.

Eastern Eye caught up with Aastha to talk about her journey as a stylist, fashion, working with Aishwarya, hot colours and top tips for ladies who want to stand out.

You first became connected to fashion while studying and learning about the vast industry, but what led you toward becoming a stylist?
I was doing marketing and merchandising, which I actually did not enjoy so much. While doing post graduation a friend of mine told me, why don’t you explore styling and that is how I got to know what that actually was. I started studying it and after college assisted stylists at some magazines to understand what it actually takes to become a stylist. Once I got into it, that was it, I knew this was going to be something I am passionate about and really like doing. I got a job at Harper’s Bazaar in Delhi and wanted to do something of my own, so moved to Mumbai, and got into celebrity styling. It has been the way of living since then.

How do you look back on your journey as a stylist?
There has been a lot of hard work and many challenges, but overall, it has been an amazing journey. I have no regrets and been blessed to get the kind of opportunities I have. Being an outsider in Mumbai, this city has accepted me and the work I do, which is amazing.

How did you start working with Aishwarya?
I had done an event with her through a friend and was in touch with her manager. A few things happened and I just started working with her. Then years passed by. It has been seven years of working together and been a wonderful journey. She has given me some of the best opportunities. She has trusted me and given me Cannes for five years. So it has been a solid, great journey. There has been a lot of hard work and challenges. But, it’s like you meet those people who you connect with and belong together, and it so happens the same.

How has that working relationship with Aishwarya evolved?
It, of course, takes time for you to understand each other. Understanding each other’s aesthetic is very important when styling. I had to understand her style because she has been a fashion icon for many years; way before I started styling her. I could not change her personal style, which is very strong. So it has taken me a few years to understand where she comes from, her background, and personal and professional styles and also the fact she already had her own style that I can’t change. I have slowly brought my ideas to her and she has taken them on beautifully. There are mutual decisions taken between us. It has been a wonderful journey and I have had a great time working with her.

How much preparation goes into Aishwarya’s Cannes looks?
It is a process. It starts anywhere from three to four months before Cannes, and right after the international runway collections come out. We plan and understand what she will exactly be doing at the Cannes Film Festival for L’Oreal. Then a process starts where we kind of shortlist what exactly we should go ahead with. We ask the designers to create something exclusive and not seen on the other runways or by people. So that is the main idea. There are meetings, fittings and we mutually come to the conclusion, which dresses will be worn on the red carpet.

Does the fact many see her as the queen of Cannes put pressure on you?
Pressure is there to make her stand out, do better than previous years and make something that is going to be iconic. People should remember the looks in years to come and not get bored of seeing her. All these pressures are there, but I think they are required to create something that is not regular, and come up with completely different designs each year.

What inspired the looks this year?
One was futuristic and risqué, the second was classic and beautiful. She carried off both with so much confidence. We created two entirely different looks and statements for everyone – from fans to fashion editorials. I am happy with both of them.

Do you look at what other leading ladies are wearing at Cannes?
You see what they are wearing when you are there, but don’t know beforehand. It’s lovely seeing the wonderful ladies there, doing their thing and representing India on an international level. Sonam (Kapoor) has been killing it at Cannes every year. It is a delight to see her. It’s lovely seeing Deepika (Padukone) taking risks and she did that this year.

Who are your favourite fashion designers?
At the moment I’m all about the cool ones. Off white, Moncler, Oliver Peoples, Shivan and Narresh, Dhruv Kapoor, Kanika Goyal. I have my favourites bookmarked from each of them.

What are the hot colours and trends this year?
Deep olive, cherry yellow and tangerine are few colours to look out for this year. Also, powder shades have managed to be trending this year too.

Can you give some top style tips?
Quirk up your outfits with cool sunglasses and statement shoes. There’s no better trick for upping your style game than this one. One can try mixing prints or going tone on tone depending on personal style.

What are the common mistakes women make when putting together an outfit?
Adding too many statement pieces in one look. It’s like a war between superpowers. It’s a big no-no. Another is teaming the wrong kind of shoes with the outfit, as a wrong footwear can really throw proportions out of place.

It is the wedding season; what tips would you give brides?
Do subtle, do loud, go colourful or pastel. Basically, anything that makes a bride happy. Brides should not shy away from experimenting. Having fun with the looks is the only key.

What are your favourite fashion accessories and clothes?
A vintage choker, classic pumps and a flirty tea-length dress are my favourite pieces.

What inspires you creatively?
I get inspiration everywhere. Travel, architecture, lifestyle and art around the world.

Who would you love to style?
Jennifer Lopez, as her style is the perfect spice mix. Classic yet experimental.

What can we expect next from you?
There is a lot on my plate right now. Time will tell. I’m grateful for all the opportunities coming my way.

Why do you love fashion?
It’s a way of expression for me and a way of life. I love how fashion can show and hide the true self.