“I knew I wanted to do something in fashion, and I definitely knew that I wanted to do something in the creative space, but I just wasn’t sure what. I remember going to a friend’s house and we were just chatting about careers, and then she mentioned to me that her cousin was a personal shopper and that she shopped for a living, and I thought, ‘that sounds amazing.’ So I went home and I was just Googling ‘personal shopper,’ ‘how to become a personal shopper,’ and trying to find out what I had to study. While I was looking, the word stylist came up and I thought, ‘okay I’m going to try and see what I can do with this.’

Then I discovered schools like Parsons, and Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion—which is where I went in the end. At the time I didn’t know that I wanted to do styling, so I decided to a foundation degree, which helped me tap into everything. So I tried illustration, creative writing, photography, even pattern cutting, which I was terrible at. Like really bad. Bad to the point where my teacher had to say, ‘maybe this isn’t for you.’

But that helped in a way because my tutor—who was amazing—knew that my friend was on the course as well and said ‘why don’t you not do pattern cutting, and work with your friend, and you can style the collection.

I remember just diving head-first into it all. It just seemed so exciting to me.”

 

“From there, I decided to move into the styling and photography course—the 3-year B.A. degree. In my final year, I specialised in styling and I loved it. I’m so glad I went with it—went with my gut. It was one of those things that just unfolded along the way…I don’t think I ever had a clear picture from day one. It was just sort of something that evolved into what it is now…It’s still evolving.”

“Over the years, I got a sense of how to work with a photographer—being able to speak the language, to understand lighting with respect to clothing. It's such a collaborative process. Nothing works independently.”
“I love seeing two creative voices come together. That will always be unique. I just want to see how you can marry two different points of view...That’s something that I like to do. I don’t like getting stuck in one way of doing things.”
Selected works by Ria Kamat Shetty:
“In any creative process, you have in your head what you want the outcome to be. You’ve created the moodboard, you know what you want to achieve, and it may not go there at all. But you need to appreciate the direction that it does go in—being okay with that. Letting go of that control...I’m still learning how to do that. It’s a process, learning how to let go."

“I’m someone who really likes to be organised. For me, being organised and thorough is a big part of my creative process. And there’s that myth of creative people being messy and all over the place, but that’s just not me. And that’s okay. That’s my process. For me, it was about being confident in my process and trusting in that. And it’s tough because there’s so much—with platforms like Instagram, everyone’s so used to comparing. There’s always someone who’s doing a better shoot, someone who’s doing better work, or who has more followers or likes, and you just have to let that go. I’ve had to learn how to let that go.

In this business, there’s always this need to maintain a certain pace—to keep up with each other and move really fast. But I’ve realised that it’s okay for me to just do it in my way. And it might be a slower pace or a different way, but there’s no formula that’s going to get me to where I want to be.”

“If there’s someone who feels something from the images that you make, then that’s success. That’s success to me. But I don’t think I’ve ever been at a place where I feel like, ‘this is it.' There’s always room for improvement, but I think it’s about doing justice to what you’re feeling in that moment. It’s just about how someone feels when they look at the image.”

“I find that now, there is more responsibility or pressure to really draw people into the image. You’re competing with their attention spans, and you feel this need to create a disruptive, compelling, vivid image that’s going to draw people into it.

One of the photographers that I love at the moment—Nadine Ijewere—every time I look at one of her images I just find that there’s—just the way she treats colour, the way she represents the fashion, the model, even the way she incorporates culture—I find that there’s just so much soul to it, and that soul is her. I think that having images that are authentic to you, and yourself, is what’s going to stand out.”

“I love looking at everything. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort not to look at my phone when I’m in a moving vehicle, and instead looking outside. I want to discover what’s new, see things that are new. For me, noticing things, like the architecture, who’s on the street...taking all those details in. I’m inspired by that. I’m excited to see and feel that.”

Portraits by Magdalene Shapter.