'Salman Khan has to wear a shirt to go shirtless!'

Ashley Rebello and Alvira Khan-Agnihotri of Ax2 are the fashion force behind Salman Khan. Together, they make the irrepressible Tiger explosive in the shirts that miraculously unbutton themselves on screen to to show off his ab-fab physique.

Alvira, married to actor turned filmmaker, Atul Agnihotri, is Salman’s younger sister and does not do interviews, but Ashley, fashion designer to the stars for the last 20 years, is happy to speak for the both of them! On the sets of Bigg Boss 6 in Filmistan, Mumbai, Ashley speaks to Firstpost in between wardrobe changes for the superstar, on all things fashionable and Salman, barring the boxers or briefs question!

Salman did not wear the silver bracelet in Dabanng and Ek Tha Tiger as it did not go with both the characters he essayed in the films. Sachin Gokhale/Firstpost

Do you exclusively design for Salman Khan with Alvira Khan Agnihotri or work with other stars too?

I’ve been working in the film business for 20 years now, and have worked with a wide array of stars since. I’ve worked with Shahid Kapoor in Ishq Vishq, Ameesha Patel in Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, Imran Khan in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, I work with Kareena Kapoor on her stage shows, Mallika Sherawat, Malaika Arora-Khan and Asin, but it’s only for the last six years that I’ve been designing exclusively for Salman Khan with Alvira. During the filming of Hello, which was directed by Atul Agnihotri, and Salman had a special appearance, Alvira and I decided to form our own design company, Ax2, and do Salman’s clothes exclusively. We went on to do Yuvraj, Wanted, Dabangg, Ready, Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2 since. As a team for our company, we only work on Salman’s clothes. But individually, I work with just about anyone.

How do you design for a man who looks good in anything – does it make things easier or more difficult?

Oh, it makes things much easier designing for Salman! You can give him anything, any colour, any style and he carries it off with panache. Also, since he’s so good looking and handsome, clothes look fabulous on him.

Does Salman have a particular preference in clothes for his films?

Not really. The directors of his films tell us what they want in terms of look and style and once we are ready with the required look, we show it to Salman, who then approves it. But we do keep a certain look in mind keeping his persona and body type whilst working on his clothes.

The clothes for his shirtless sequences in films – how much work goes into that?

(Laughs) Well, Salman has to wear a shirt to go shirtless! And Alvira and I make those shirts - they are usually regular shirts, nothing special in terms of design elements, that we make for these scenes. Fans love his shirtless shots in films and it’s now a thing in all his films. But we too, have seen miraculous things happen on screen with the buttons coming off themselves! It’s a surprise to us too. In Ek Tha Tiger, it was a Yash Raj style shirtless scene which was not very filmy and quite slick.

Do you and Alvira design a particular outfit or accessory specifically so that it catches on with the fans?

Definitely! For Ek Tha Tiger, the director, Kabir Khan wanted a Turkish kafia (cotton headdress) for Salman’s character. The Kafia is synonymous with Turkish people and everyone wears that there – it comes in red and white and a black and white combination. We chose the black and white kafia for Salman in the film and it has caught on with his fans already! Alvira is very clear and correct and specific in her vision and she being Salman’s sister, can convince him to wear anything – things he doesn’t like even. She knows him best. In between her roles as a wife and mother to her two kids and looking after their NGO, Being Human, I try and bridge the gap for her in the design aspect.

Salman’s favourite silver bracelet with a blue stone that he wears in everyday life and in almost all his recent films, was missing in Dabangg and Ek Tha Tiger. Why?

The silver bracelet was made to order for Salman by his father, Salim Khan some years ago and naturally, Salman’s very attached to it. But he did not wear it in Dabanng and Ek Tha Tiger as it did not go with both the characters he essayed in the films – that of a desi cop and a RAW agent respectively. He wore it in Ready and in any film that it doesn’t clash with his on screen character.

Does Salman favour a particular style of jeans, fabric, anything?

He is easy when it comes to fashion. He is not fussy at all about his clothes. He likes wearing comfort fit and boot cut jeans and cotton tee shirts as he dislikes fabrics that are itchy or prickly. He likes soft fabrics, so cotton works best for him. But he loves his sunglasses and belts! He has a vast collection of sunglasses and belts – it’s unbelievable! He favours Tom Ford’s styles and loves the brand’s perfume too - Black Orchid. When he’s not shooting, he wears his Being Human tee shirts and cargo shorts.

What is Salman’s waist size?

It’s 32 inches.

Is he a boxers or a briefs kinda guy?

I’m not telling you that!

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