What I Know About Style

Sanyukta Shrestha

March
7

London College of Fashion graduate and award-winning Fulham-based designer Sanyukta Shrestha on responsible choices, finding inspiration and missing London and Nepal

You grew up in Nepal, surrounded by nature and hardworking people. What was your childhood like?

I started dancing and sketching at the age of three, competing in local and national talent shows and winning many of these events. Meanwhile, my elder sister’s passion for literature and women’s rights offered an insight into other views of the world. My parents and three siblings have been the greatest inspiration and I am incredibly grateful to my parents for encouraging me to become an independent career woman.

During my early years as a designer, I worked as a volunteer for the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC Nepal) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal, which enthused me to use sustainable fabrics and work with Fair Trade-certified manufacturers.

What inspired you to get into fashion, and designing bridal wear in particular?

I always loved sketching and creating special outfits out of paper – sometimes out of my mum’s old saris and then decorating them with beads for my dance competitions. I was determined that whatever I did in my career, it had to be in the creative field. When I was searching for an art school I discovered Lakhotia Institute of Design and joined when I was 17.

The same year I was chosen to design for the Miss Nepal event for which I won Best Design and then I was chosen to be an official designer for Miss Nepal for the Miss World pageant 1998 – a milestone and an exciting start to my career.

My desire was always to bring out the inner beauty within every woman, and to do that on the biggest, most important day of a woman’s life is truly fulfilling.

You’re the first sustainable bridal designer to be nominated for Best Bridal Designer as well as Best Bridal Collection at the 2016 UK Wedding Awards. Why aren’t more designers using organic materials and fair-trade manufacturers – how difficult is it to do so?

The awareness for ethical clothing is certainly growing in the UK and around the world. I believe it is important to ensure that we are all working ethically and in an environmentally friendly way because ultimately that benefits everyone and it is the future of fashion. The nomination shows that the bridal industry is starting to recognise eco-friendly designs and it makes me incredibly proud as it is for doing work that I truly believe in.

It is not an easy path compared to using easily available fabrics – you need lots of research, dedication and, more importantly, respect and desire to protect the environment for our future generations. Many fabric manufacturers and suppliers are becoming more aware about their impact on the earth, which will make it easier for designers to get hold of Fair Trade and organic fabrics.

How regularly does work take you to Nepal? What do you miss when you’re away from London?

I usually visit Nepal at least once a year. It is funny but when I am in London I miss Nepal and when I am there I miss London. I can’t pinpoint what exactly it is but it is simple things from my everyday life.

I am currently planning my next trip to Nepal. This trip is not only work or family-related but is especially important as I will assess the situation after the terrifying earthquake in April last year, which devastated the country and changed the life of so many people in Nepal. Soon after the tragic events I started a fundraiser (www.gofundme.com/ameyatrust) with the goal of supporting the weavers who work so passionately to create the fabrics that we use to create one-of-a-kind bridal gowns. In addition and as continued support, 10% of all sales from the Eco Goddess and Ameya Flower Girl Collection will go directly to aid relief.

What’s your philosophy on life?

You have to think of every consequence, every choice that may affect people and the planet. As a designer, I feel responsible for what I do and the decisions I make in my life and my career.

You’ve mentioned that having daughter has changed your creative life…

I feel that since I became a mother my brand keeps maturing and expanding, in the same way my family does.

My daughter Ameya will turn two in May. She has turned my life upside down, in an absolutely positive way. Her birth sparked the creative ideas of the Flower Girl collection, which is named after her – I launched the collection on her first birthday. Ameya is already very fashion savvy and if she doesn’t like a dress she lets me know!

Who or what else inspires you?

In my collections I capture the dreams and stories that brides have shared with me over the years. My travels also inspire my work and I am a very vivid dreamer so I find inspiration in my dreams.

How would you describe your personal style?

I am a full-time working mum who has to represent her brand every day. Therefore, I would say that I mostly dress simply yet elegantly. I always choose natural colors and I love to wear pearls. I generally wear at least one item that I designed myself.

What are your favourite local hotspots?

I often visit Del Aziz for lunch and Wholefood’s Market in Fulham, which is just a few minutes from my boutique.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I usually work during the night when there is complete peace so I find a late start precious. It’s not the same since becoming a full-time working mum though!

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a Mini Me collection. I plan on creating attires for mums with matching outfits for their little ones. A young child’s skin is particularly sensitive to chemically-enhanced fabrics. I use unique fabrics made from eco-friendly materials, which prevent skin allergies and ensures that the skin is nourished and can breathe.

www.sanyuktashrestha.com

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