Q&A with Sanyukta
What inspired you to get into fashion, and designing bridal wear in particular?
My passion for art started when I was 3. I always loved sketching and creating special outfits out of paper and sometimes out of my mom’s old Sari and then decorating with beads for my dance competitions. I was determined that whatever I do in my career has to be in the creative field. When I was searching for an art school I discovered Lakhotia fashion institute and joined when I was 17 years old.
It was in the same year that I was chosen to design for the Miss Nepal event. My creation was awarded Best Design and then I was chosen to be an official designer for Miss Nepal for the Miss World pageant 1998. This truly was a milestone in my journey as a fashion designer and an exciting start to my career.
I find bridal is just the most intriguing and compelling within the fashion industry. 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 for me. I think specialising in bridal was a natural progression in terms of my passions and also my career in general.
Why aren’t more designers using organic materials and fair-trade manufacturers – how difficult is it to do so?
As the ‘fast fashion’ trend has grown in popularity, providing cheaper clothes to a mass market, the consideration in purchasing has dwindled. It is easier to make an impulse purchase on a low cost item and forget to think about the consequences of cheap production. Ethical materials and workforces are available, but due to unclear supply chains in giant companies, it is difficult for them to trace how and where exactly the clothes have been sourced and produced.
This issue has been steadily growing in awareness in the UK and around the world. It is important to remember that organic and ethical clothing doesn’t mean that they’re not luxury. I have endeavoured to highlight this through my design and manufacturing process, creating high end items that utilise artisan textile crafts and skills still practiced in areas of Nepal.
I have been lucky enough and blessed to be awarded for my work, winning The Global Award for Sustainable Fashion and being Highly Commended as a Brand Leader in Design at the Source Awards in 2012. The recognition that I receive for my sustainable approach, in combination with my nominations and awards in bridal design, are so rewarding to my years of research into eco-friendly fabrics and my desire to improve the marginalised communities of my home country. I hope that I can inspire other designers, not just in the bridal industry, to explore the possibilities within ethical sourcing and manufacturing.
What can a bride expect from purchasing a Sanyukta Shrestha dress?
It’s been my desire for many years to create beautiful signature designs that are luxurious, indulgent and unique but also sustainable and fair trade. I believe in reflecting the individual through my designs. For me feeling amazing is just as important as looking amazing! Trends change but truly good designs should stand the test of time. I think ultimately, that is what I aim for every time I begin work on new pieces.
How does Sanyukta Shrestha stand out from other bridal labels?
Sanyukta Shrestha is a sustainable luxury brand with a conscience. The dresses are made from natural and eco-friendly handmade fabrics such as hemp silk and bamboo lace. Most fabrics used in my collections have skin nourishing and anti-bacterial properties. The Milca gown, for example, is a wedding gown which is made from the fibre of milk casein. As a fabric, milk is light, soothing and iridescent which I felt was perfect for a bridal gown. The fabric creates a constant reminder that sustainable fashion can be beautiful.
What is your number one tip for women who are just starting to look for their wedding dress?
Brides-to-be need to understand that most of the time, the dream dress what they have seen on another bride and/or model would not necessarily flatter the,m as everyone is different and most commonly so are our body shapes and personalities. That is why I advise all brides-to-be to go into a bridal consultation with an open mind and try different styles in order to find the perfect shape to flatter.
A wedding dress should combine beauty with comfort, so a bride should follow her heart and not the trends! The perfect wedding dress is the one that reflects the bride’s personality, compliments her figure and most importantly, it’s the one she feel most comfortable in. Brides should stay true to themselves and stick to the shapes they know work. They should feel beautiful and happy while wearing it.
You also design bespoke dresses – Can you design any style of dress a bride wants?
I want my brides to have the dress of their dreams. Brides come to me with their vision and I feel incredibly grateful that they trust me with realising their dream. As a trusted designer it is my duty to design a dress that is flattering and compliments the beauty and individuality of the bride, so I offer my suggestions in order to bring to life their vision, whilst being honest about what is right for them, their body and their day!
What type of dress would you recommend for a destination wedding?
It depends where the wedding is going to be held. Whether on a sandy beach in a tropical climate or in the mountain top chalet surrounded by snow. But in general I would say that it is important for a destination wedding dress to be lightweight in terms of the bride’s comfort and also the practicality of transporting the dress. To create a balance between beauty and practicality, fabric plays the most essential role. If you feel good, you look good! Therefore choosing natural fabrics like silk, bamboo, hemp and organic cotton will provide beauty and even health benefits (bamboo provides resistance to UV light as well as anti-bacterial properties which makes it an extremely suitable even for brides with sensitive skin) without compromising the comfort. Bamboo for example keeps you warm when it is cold but keeps you cool when you are hot.
What’s your philosophy on life?
You have to think of every consequence, every choice that may affect people and the planet. As a person and as a designer I feel responsible for what I do and the decisions I make in my life and my career.
Who or what inspires you?
Each bride’s unique love of fashion and simple yet individual style gives me great inspiration. In my collections I capture the dreams and stories that brides have shared with me over the years. I find my surroundings also inspire my work as I have been privileged enough to visit many amazing places on this beautiful earth. And I am a very vivid dreamer, so I do find inspirations in my dreams at night.
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 wear something simple yet elegant. I always choose natural colors and I love to wear pearls. I generally wear at least one item that I designed myself.