Stylist Reva Bhatt, aka @hybridhues, Draws Fashion Inspiration From Her Motherland

In her Style Notes interview, the creative director discusses Solange's "A Seat at the Table," winning best dressed in 7th grade, and the male gaze.

Stylist Reva Bhatt
Selfie by Reva Bhatt for W magazine.

Like many creatives of color who comprise fashion’s class of cool kids, the stylist and creative director Reva Bhatt did not come up through the internship-to-coveted-fashion-job pipeline. Instead, Bhatt used the Internet to spin her niche into gold.

Since her early days blogging under the name “Hybrid Hues” (which has now become her moniker), she’s gone on to style Raveena’s “Temptation” music video, a Puma x Swarovski campaign, digital community LiveTinted’s beauty campaign centering the brand’s latest drop, and, most recently, working with Kollin Carter for Kelly Rowland’s “Hitman” video. While her work isn’t tethered to the typical South Asian “aesthetic,” she injects elements like draping and color-blocking in a way that can work in tandem with a broad range of styles. Growing up in Cupertino, California, much of the culture was (and still is) driven by tech—Apple is headquartered there—the fashion industry wasn’t as prevalent. But as an Indian-American woman, the art of dressing up was inherent in the traditions and holidays that Bhatt and her family celebrated, like Diwali and Holi. “Our culture is rich in textiles, rich in color, and is very vibrant—so I never came from a minimal [fashion] space,” the New York-based stylist said over a recent FaceTime chat. “The draping, the colors, the maximalist nature of what I’m drawn to definitely comes from that.”

In her adolescence, Bhatt faced patriarchal ideas of beauty standards within her culture—not to mention the physical changes all people experience during that period. She began to experiment with wearing shapes and silhouettes that covered her body’s natural shape while still allowing space for self-expression. Bhatt took her exploratory looks to Instagram in 2014 as “Hybrid Hues.” This fashion and style blog was ultimately what led her to style her first self-sourced shoot for an exhibition, called “Not Your Dulhan,” where she dressed models as part of a visual series examining the stereotypes around the “perfect dulhan” (bride) within her community. “Everyone I knew was in school, and something they did was going to touch tech,” she says. “I didn’t know how it could be, coming from such a linear career path where you’re taught that you’re supposed to go to school, then get a job, and then climb the corporate hierarchy. I never understood how I could ever be in fashion because it was already game over for me.”

Since the start of her professional styling career, Bhatt has established a visually potent aesthetic which often draws from her South Asian background. Despite many South Asian creatives within the community, fashion has held onto a monolithic viewpoint of what that aesthetic is: bridal. “I definitely feel like we internalize that stereotype and aesthetic a little bit,” she says. “We keep regurgitating the same thing because that’s what people keep telling us what our look is. We need range. But what is that range? I’m very much for the diaspora trying to bring the nuances of our culture.”

Here, the 28-year-old stylist—whose current project is a collaboration with the Indian-American rapper Raja Kumari—expounds on her eclectic taste, and how she carves out a unique and authentic space for herself within fashion.

What was your first big styling gig?

Probably Raveena’s Temptation video, because it was the first video that was paid for and we had a full production team.

What inspired the look/vibe for the most recent LiveTinted beauty campaign you executed?

The product, which was a body glow serum. I immediately thought of warm-toned, nude, silky fabrics draping melanated skin to highlight the glow from the product.

Who is your ultimate style icon?

My mom, my grandma, my ancestors—womxn in the motherland.

Describe your style in three words.

Perpetually evolving and growing. As I expand and continue to learn and unlearn, my style is a direct reflection of that. There are a lot of things that I’ve learned from my surroundings, experiences, institutions I’ve attended, people around me, locale, etc. that indirectly or directly impact my style. Some of it stays with me and some of it I’ve outgrown and unlearned, as it doesn’t serve me anymore.

What was your first major fashion purchase?

I treated myself to a structural top from A.W.A.K.E for my birthday after months of aggressive saving. I remember feeling super guilty and embarrassed for spending so much on a top, especially because I was raised in a household where spending money on clothes was considered frivolous and wasteful. But to this day, I love that top.

Best fashion advice you’ve ever received?

Money can’t buy taste.

Most prized possession in your closet?

Jewelry from my mom and nani (grandmother).

What was your style like as a teenager?

Honestly, as a teenager who felt body shamed not only for her size but also her curves—I dressed really androgynous with oversized silhouettes.

I remember I won “best dressed” in 7th grade—and I’m pretty sure I wore a white A-line skirt with a matching spaghetti strap tank top, and a little red, cropped sweater that tied in the front. My mom and I probably bought that look together. It’s quite embarrassing now, but in retrospect, most other kids wore denim shorts and tanks in school, so my fit was pretty out there.

Favorite fashion moment from pop culture?

Solange’s A Seat At The Table visual album changed my life. The fashion complimented the overall message the music told and the visuals so beautifully. Plus, it was directed by one of my favorites, Carlota Guerrero. It inspires me to this day to continue to think of fashion as a vessel to communicate a larger picture.

Currently, where are your favorite places to shop?

T.A. and Third Edit are both multibrand retailers owned by Black and Brown female entrepreneurs that have an amazing curation of pieces.

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