42 Questions With Kayaan Contractor

kayaan contractor


In this series, we ask people the hard questions about things that matter – like fitness hacks, coffee, and Nutella.

This week we talk to Kayaan Contractor, Creative Director at Shapeshifter, image maker, and one of the coolest people we know.


1. Do you have a middle name?

Shiraz – it’s my dad’s name but I use as my own.

2. Does anyone call you by your initials?

Lots of people. It’s very annoying.

3. What’s the most femme thing you have in your wardrobe? 

Let’s just say a sheer blouse. I’m not a very feminine person, I literally don’t know if I have anything feminine. A bunch of pink things, maybe, somewhere in the back of my closet?

4. Is it easier to be androgynous if you’re not curvy? 

I’ve never been curvy, so I don’t know. It depends on personal style.

5. What was the hardest of your 2018 resolutions to keep?

That I won’t lose my patience. Although I’ve been pretty good, but sometimes I do lose my patience and snap, and then I end up apologising.

6. Could you tell us how your parents chose the name Kayaan for you? 

It was the name of one of my uncles’ ex-girlfriends, and he really liked the name and named me. My parents didn’t really care! But it turns out it’s a fucking boy’s name.

7. Free will or destiny? 

A bit of both. I’m a big sucker for “things will happen when they have to happen”, but I’m also very big on “things will happen when I let them happen”.

8. “Beagle” translates to bee gueule – wide-throat or “loudmouth” in French because they’re so vocal. Are yours chatty?  

Only one of them. Max, the elder one, is really loud, but he’s a barking dog that never bites. He’s very alert and will make sure to let you know there’s someone at the door even if you know because the doorbell rang. Noah, on the other hand, has to really feel the need to go for it.

9. Tell us the story of one of your tattoos. 

My last one is of 2 cherry blossoms, 1 full and 1 half, on my elbow. If you look at it from far it looks like a bruise, but come closer beautiful and you’ll see it looks like it’s in watercolour. The full cherry blossom is my grandmother, half is me. We lost her 3 years ago. If you didn’t know her well she was a like really Parsi lady, angry at all times, but if you got close you’d see she was the loveliest, most beautiful person. Her favourite flower was the cherry blossom.

10. How often do you change your hair/cut/colour?

Don’t ask! Whenever I feel like doing something I just do it. It’s hair it’ll grow back, just take care of it.

11. What’s the one thing that should be in every Bombay girl’s wardrobe? 

I’ll tell you what I have in my wardrobe right now – a jar of Nutella!

12. Three general fashion favourites that must die immediately.

I don’t know if this is fashion, but the selfie pout needs to be jammed into a bottle and thrown away for not even Kevin Costner to find in Message in a Bottle.

From a blogger/model/influencer perspective, sample clothing should be in more than one size, because not everybody is the same size. There are smaller girls and people need to understand that. Clamping needs to stop.

And very high heels when you’re doing photoshoots. There are alternatives in boots, and amazing Doc Martens available in every colour.

13. Cold-shouldered tops – good or bad? 

I’m giving it the cold shoulder right now. No thanks.

14. Fitness hack. 

I put on music and dance with my eyes closed – it’s fun. Tire myself out. Dance till I die. Goofy dancing really makes you sweat.

15. Favourite poem. 

Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope. One of the lines is in the poem is my favourite movie – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I also love Leonard Cohen. And my favourite newest little line to go back is the line from Shape of Water – “Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere...”

16. What’s the best city in the world to see fashion on the street?

I’ve never been, but I’ve heard that Berlin is very different. From the places I have been to, I would have to say New York.

17. Where can you find the best dressed men in India?

On the internet.

18. And women?

In my mirror.

19. Most expensive accessory you’ve ever bought?

My watch, which I bought last month. It’s a Rolex.

20. Most overrated fashion must-have?

Oversized anything.

21. Favourite decade for women’s hair?  

All. I’m a hair connoisseur. I really like the ’70s for that entire carefree business – it was more feather hair etc. There’s no particular era for good hair. It’s good hair-a for every era. I also love how victory rolls look.

22. Has anyone ever told you you look a little like Alia Bhatt?

No, that has never come up. I got Anushka Sharma once. I don’t know from where.

23. Who is your vintage Hollywood style inspiration? 

Lady Gaga when she wants to be vintage.

24. Who has style in the Indian firmament? 

Kangana Ranaut

25. What are you reading right now?

I’m not an avid reader. I remember visuals, so I’ll watch anything. This is how I watch Wes Anderson movies – in full awe. Sometimes I’ll watch something and have to re-watch it because I wasn’t paying attention to what happened, just how it looked.

26. What are the top 3 songs on your playlist?

I Get Ideas – Louis Armstrong – That’s always playing.

Deep Inside of You – 3EB

Dancing on my Own – Robyn

Those are the top 3 right now. I listen to a lot of David Bowie, Louis Armstrong, vintage music. Anything that’ll give me feels and make cry is ace.

27. Which was your first magazine cover?

That I was on – Grazia Digital last year. That I styled – Ranveer Singh for The Man.

28. Do people recognize you now? And do they ask for selfies?

Yes, they do. They don’t hound me. Asking for selfies happens at Amazon Fashion Week. At Lakme I’m just there to watch the shows and go back home, I’m one of many Bombay bloggers.

29. Do you ever get tired of seeing your own face in your work? 

No, I don’t. Is that bad to say? It’s because I constantly have to keep looking at how I can do one better. So I have to keep looking at the images we make time and again before the next shoot. I look at them to see how I can change or reinvent.

30. Best place to get a coffee and people watch?

Come to my house and we’ll watch TV. I’ll give you coffee. I’m a hermit.

31. If you had to, what could you eat every single day forever? 

I have 2 extremes – sushi and dahi kadhi.

32. Fake winter, purgatorial summer, wetwetwet – which is the hardest Mumbai season to dress for?


33. Crocs? Docs? Birkenstocks? Yes or no for each, please. 

No (unless they’re Christopher Kane). Yaaaas. Yes.

34. Do you have a “fashion advice” group on Whatsapp? 

No no no no no no no. No groups, I hate groups

35. What’s the last thing you vetoed that a friend was wearing?

All my friends dress well.

36. Best thing on Netflix.

Queer Eye. Although right now what I am re-watching is Hannibal and Bates Motel. And it’s not on Netflix but Girls on Hotstar. It’s my no. 1 show, I’ve watched at least 4 times. I love Lena Dunham

37. Most over-used fashion word?

Fab! Lit!

38. One makeup item you can’t live without?

It’s two, actually; mascara and lip and cheek tint.

39. High heels are a tool of the patriarchy – true or false? 

I don’t know, I think it’s a personal choice. I wouldn’t judge you on your character if you choose to wear it.

40. DietSabya is… 

Not me!

41. What fashion trend should come with an age-appropriate warning? (Athleisure?)

Nothing. Personal style is personal style. It takes balls to wear what you want, at whatever age.

42. Finish the sentence: Well-behaved women…

…would constantly have to keep up with appearances, all the while wondering what it would be like to go a little crazy and enjoy it from time to time!