Neeta Lulla: 40 years in fashion industry hasn’t been a cakewalk, been quite a struggle

Neeta Lulla, who is one of the most renowned names from the world of fashion, has completed 40 years in the industry.

 Neeta Lulla, who is one of the most renowned names from the world of fashion, has completed 40 years in the industry. However, it was not a cake walk for the designer as she says she had tasted her share of struggles to make it where she is today.

“40 years in the industry has not been a cakewalk, it has been quite a struggle. Apart from being a fashion designer, I am also a costume designer, a housewife, and a mother. Being able to juggle these roles and seamlessly transition from one role to another was quite a task, Lulla told IANS, when asked about her 40 years in the fashion industry.

The designer, who has worked on over 300 films and has been designing wedding dresses since 1985, said that “ time management and good organisational skills can be an asset.”

“Luckily for me, my workplace was my home in the beginning, and later on, it was closer to home, so it was a huge advantage, and it helped me manage both my roles at work and home,” added Lulla.

The designer, who has been feted with the National Film Award for Best Costume Design in 2009 for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ and 2012 for the Marathi language film ‘Balgandharva’, talked about being a female designer in the industry.

Lulla said that “gender inclusivity has always been a norm in our industry.”

“Back when I started working, we had many stalwarts, who were working in the films and the industry – and they were women. We had a good space in those times, where there were no restrictions to only men. At that point, many women were managing the creative aspect of costume and fashion design, for female actors.”

For male actors, it was a male designer, said Lulla, who crafted an unforgettable pearl-encrusted lehenga for actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s mehendi ceremony.

“But today, there is a lot more room and inclusivity where male designers design for women and female designers design for men have gotten in the scene and it has always been a common aspect of the industry from that time,” she added.

Over her 40 years run in the industry as a fashion stylist and a costume designer, Lulla has created the look for leading Bollywood personalities including Late star Sridevi, Juhi Chawla, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajinikanth, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

How is it working with the Indian film industry?

“It has been a beautiful journey working with the Indian Film Industry. This year marks my 40th year in the fashion industry and in 2026, it will be my 40th year in films. This journey is filled with many joy rides, speed breakers, and challenges but if I had to do this all over again, I would happily do it,” said the 59-year-old designer.

She describes the journey as “very fulfilling” and has helped her “evolve as a person and as a creative talent”.

There’s no stopping her, as Lulla is currently working on five films.

Without sharing much details, Lulla said: “As of now, my plate is filled with five films, a five-film project that is in the pipeline and a musical in the works. And also, I am working on the new couture collection, that will be out soon.”

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