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US incredible place to learn trade, says Indian costume designer

By Natalia Ningthoujam, New Delhi, Jan 6 : Rome-based Indian origin costume designer Sonu Mishra, who has designed for "The Legends Of Hercules", releasing here Friday, says the US is a great place to learn your trade as a person's potential gets preference over his or her nationality.


Born and brought up in Mumbai, Mishra moved to New York in 1989 and said she learned "invaluable lessons" there as she started at the bottom and worked her way up.

"The US is an incredible place to learn your trade as people see the potential in you and give you the opportunities to rise up to the challenges," Mishra, who has worked with Hollywood stars like James Franco, Penelope Cruz, Mila Kunis and Olivia Wilde, told IANS in an email interaction from Rome.

"I met some wonderful people who taught me some really invaluable lessons. I started at the lowest rank and worked my way up," added the designer.

If she experienced the working culture of America, she also got an opportunity to see European working environment thanks to her husband - Italian director Andrea Costantini.

Mishra, who shifted her base to Rome in 1999 after tying the knot with Costantini, said: "My experience in the States and Italy has been that people see the talent in you for who you are. Your hard work, vision, dedication and focus are very much appreciated and rewarded regardless of your nationality."

"The Legends Of Hercules" will release here under PVR Pictures and Picture Works.

Mishra, who worked as a costume designer in films like "Twice Born" and "Third Person", says a lot of research work was required to design for actors like Kellan Lutz and Gaia Weiss for "The Legends Of Hercules".

"We started researching the actual period, then I started looking at paintings from the 15th century onwards for Hercules.

"I fell in love with Alma Tadema's paintings of ancient Greece. He depicts ancient Greece with a modern feel. The women's costumes, although true to the period, seemed contemporary. I loved the armour that I saw in 15th century paintings," she said.

Director Renny Harlin's "The Legend of Hercules" is a 3D film and therefore Mishra worked on the "tiny details, trimmings, metal work and jewellery" for the film.

"We even did metal decorations on the actors' shoes which were all handmade by a shoemaker in Italy. I draped all the costumes on mannequins and tried to avoid stitching as much as we could," she added.

An admirer of costume designer Arjun Bhasin, whose work she really appreciated in the 2012 film "Life of Pi", Mishra is also open to creating designs for Indian stars.

"I haven't worked on a Bollywood film yet. Yes, it would be great to design one - so many talented actors and directors in India," she said.

Coming to the fashion, well-travelled Mishra says each place has its own distinct style.

"In Mumbai, you get to see such a varied style, Indian clothing combined with western clothing. Colours are very vibrant and it's what strikes you when you first arrive in India. The colour combinations, the patterns and the embroideries," she said.

Making a comparison, she said that New Yorkers have a way of using vintage clothing with new ones, while Italians' distinctive fashion sense makes them easy to spot.

"Italians have a way of making a pair of jeans and a white shirt look stylish. They have an understated elegance. And, of course, there's the art of how the women make wearing extremely high heel shoes seem so effortless," said the alumna of Sophia College, Mumbai.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 06-01-2014)

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