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For her FW ’19 collection, Sanctuary, Hyderabad-based designer Shriya Bhupal chose a showstopper we are used to seeing deliver smash hits rather than walk the ramp. The image of badminton champ PV Sindhu, looking ravishing in an elaborate hot pink high skirt style lehenga paired with an off-shoulder top, was the most Instagrammed one from the show. “She loved the colours and textures from our newest collection, having worn our ensembles in the past,” says Bhupal, adding that Sindhu chose this outfit for its “extensive embroidered motifs, which is a signature of our brand.”

designer Shriya Bhupal
Badminton player PV Sindhu with designer Shriya Bhupal

Thirty-year-old Bhupal is known for her elaborately crafted evening wear that melds traditional and contemporary. With Sanctuary, she has created bridal couture featuring skirts and gowns that toe the fusion line. There are vibrant floral motifs, luxurious textures, rich embellishments, intricate embroidery, and modern silhouettes. The collection also features her signature ruffle dress in new interpretations, and beaded fringe dresses and textured jackets in pastel tones and colour-blocked contrasts. Since she started her label Shriya Som 2015 – the flagship store opened in August this year in Taj Krishna, Hyderabad – the brand has grown to become a preferred choice for stars like Sara Ali Khan, Taapsee Pannu, and Rakul Preet Singh.

designer Shriya Bhupal
Shriya Som FW’19 collection, Sanctuary

Nature, especially flowers, is a huge inspiration for Bhupal. Floral motifs and textures are abundant in this collection and several of her other creations as well. “Floral and textural exploration forms a central theme in many of my designs, be it embroidery in multi-hued colours, vignette cutwork, or three dimensional accents and embellishments,” she says. Fascinated with fabrics and how they fall, experimentation in draping and fabric manipulation is also an ongoing process for her, with new treatments like raffia, paillettes, mirror work, and beading being explored every season.

designer Shriya Bhupal
Shriya Som FW’19 collection, Sanctuary

Behind her designs is a deep-seated artistic sensibility that goes back to an early interest in the fine arts. Bhupal graduated from the Integrated Design programme at Parsons, The New School, New York, in 2012. A mix-up of schedules led her to a fashion design class, and here, her assignment to create a multipurpose garment led to a “newfound fascination” for fashion design. She went on to pursue haute couture at the L’atelier de Sumarie in London in 2013.

designer Shriya Bhupal
Shriya Som FW’19 collection, Sanctuary

She eventually interned with Naeem Khan in New York, from whom she picked up the art of presenting classic silhouettes in a contemporary style. “The methodical and integrated way in which he creates his artworks is a lesson in visualizing a garment down to the last detail.” Having then trained with Tarun Tahiliani, she learned the finer nuances of fit and finish, and how integral they are to the Indian bridal space.

Shriya Som FW’19 collection, Sanctuary

She does not say much about her next collection, but recommends fresh florals as a strong trend for brides, with new interpretations of florals in embroidery, tone on tone, and vibrant contrasts. “Juxtaposing western elements like draped blouses or jackets with skirts is in. Contoured gowns or cocktail dresses with teased and textured fabric layers are popular this season too.”

The fashion accessories at Shriya Som start at Rs 5,000, while apparel starts at Rs 15,000.

Mona Ramavat

When she’s not conjuring up stories as a writer, journalist and freelance filmmaker Ramavat is a professional tarot card reader and reiki master.