The ace celebrity stylist and fashion director talks to Instep about his personal style, and what inspires him to create stunning looks.
Tabesh Khoja set off on his career with PR guru Frieha Altaf back in 2011, and joined renowned image consultant Nabila in March 2012. Since then there has been no looking back for this powerhouse, lovingly known as Khoji within the industry.
Apart from being an amazing stylist, Tabesh is known for grooming some of the current top models of our fashion industry. Whether it’s Fahmeen Ansari, Maha Tahirani or Mushk Kaleem, it was Tabesh who saw the potential in them. According to the stylist, you can’t choose the modelling profession for yourself, it is modelling that chooses you.
Speaking about his journey, the stylist recalls that he was in grade 6 when he told his teacher that he wanted to be a fashion designer. “It was kind of an orientation at school and my teacher was asking everyone what they wanted to become and when I said a designer my entire class started laughing at me,” he shares.
“Though it was a taboo to be a part of the fashion industry back then, I couldn’t ignore the love I had for fashion. As a kid, I was inspired by draping. I used to take a bedsheet and drape myself just to see the silhouette and how would it look,” he adds.
Fast forward to 2006, Tabesh did his matriculation and then started working at a law firm as a paralegal. “I did my intermediate privately during that time, however it was after three years that I finally realized that law was not my thing and that fashion was my calling. So, I decided to study fashion design because at that point I didn’t know there were other areas I could explore. All I knew was that anyone who could style a person and guide them on how to dress up was a designer,” he reveals, adding that he took admission at Asian Institute of Fashion Design (AIFD) where he studied fashion.
According to the fashion director, it was through the institute that he met Frieha Altaf who noticed him for his quirky sense of style and then offered him to join her as an assistant. “At that point in time Frieha directed and choreographed a lot of shows and fashion weeks in different cities and I used to be with her through and through. It was due to those shows that I met Nabila and this is how my fashion career took off,” he tells Instep.
Tabesh further went on to say that he initially joined Nabila as an assistant and because his PR game was very strong, she later asked him to become her PR director. “So, I learned styling with her and attended Conde Nast School of Fashion and Design in London and did a few styling courses from there.”
He continues, “In fact, my first ever styling shoot was with model Ayaan Ali. It was a beauty shoot done by Omair Bin Nisar and I made Ayaan wear a bold lip and jewelry by Kiran Aman that turned out great.”
This brought us to the question where he draws his inspiration from as far as styling is concerned? “I take a lot of inspiration from nature, because it tells you everything,” he responds. “Having said that, I feel that I have been blessed with this innate gift. In fact, I don’t remember referring to any videos or magazines to see what is trending in a certain season. I see things in a very different light and just follow my instincts.”
Speaking about his fashion philosophy, Tabesh thinks it’s very basic. “I like clean solid colors and Korean and Japanese fashion. I don’t like prints as such. However, I prefer my personality to shine through whatever I am wearing. And most importantly I love statement pieces and in fact, my style statement is all about layering whether it’s winter or summer,” he explains.
Over a period of time the fashion director discovered what looks good on him and which silhouette complements his body shape and type. “You see fashion is related to your body, and of course comfort matters, but that should also be aligned with fashion. You can’t just be walking in your pajamas on the road thinking that it’s comfortable but also fashionable, it doesn’t work that way,” he stresses.
The celeb stylist, who is big on silhouettes, shares that a few pieces in his wardrobe that he could shuffle around would include the countless jackets that he owns. “To be honest, I mostly shuffle around the basic stuff I own, but of course every time the silhouette is different. As I mentioned earlier, I love statement pieces and those can’t be repeated as such, mainly because your Instagram game goes down if people see the same pieces again and again.”
As for the most interesting looks that he has styled, Tabesh says that there are a few that he absolutely loves. “One has to be Sadaf Kanwal’s red carpet look at LSAs 2019 where she wore a neon green Sana Safinaz ensemble. Then Mushk Kaleem in a bright pink outfit at LSAs last year as well as Sachal Afzal in YBQ. Moreover, there’s this shoot I did with Zara Abid (late) that stirred a lot of controversy for promoting colorism – it’s my favorite out of all the shoots I’ve done till date.”
On a concluding note, we asked Tabesh Khoja where he sees style going in 2022? He reveals, “I think now style is all about feeling good about yourself and working with nature. I 100% believe in personality and individuality. So, try and play around with what you have and look expensive.”
Khoji’s tips for dressing for work
The fashion director and stylist suggests going for comfortable outfits. “One tip is to understand your body, know yourself and then dress accordingly,” he advises. “My last tip would be to let your individuality shine through in whatever you wear.”
How to dress for wedding festivity?
According to Khoji, understand your surroundings makes a whole lot of a difference. “Don’t just dress up because you want to look fancy. Keep in mind what you’re attending and when (season, day or night time) you’re attending. Take into account the amount of people you’ll be surrounded by, and dress accordingly.
Styles that make Khoji cringe
“I just don’t get why people wear cropped pants when they are clueless about styling them. Also I have seen people wearing bell bottoms that are too fitted. That is such a big no-no for me.” He adds, “And not to forget, women in shoes with their toes coming out is so not aesthetically pleasing.”