WOW | Designs On You


A wedding is the perfect time for a bride to express who she is and what she chooses to wear. WOW’s Anushka Shrestha learns from some of Nepal’s most recognised fashion designers about their work process and trends for bridal wear in 2020.

Astik Sherchan

With many designers on the fashion scene, Astik sets himself apart with his elegant motifs and perfect finish. He started out with contemporary outfits, and in 2015 diverted his creative energy into bridal wear. He also launched his store Pulchowk3. As beautiful textiles and traditional embroidery have always fascinated Astik, he pays a lot of attention to detail when crafting his collections. The talented designer is not easily influenced by trends or market demand but crafts what he believes in. He spends a lot of time with his embroidery master and carefully selects the pattern, ensuring simplicity in intricacy.

You did your fashion schooling from Paris. How does it compare to Nepal?

Fashion trends in Paris change very quickly. It takes years for the same change to take place in Nepal. For example, it is no longer fashionable to carry luxury leather handbags over there, but it is only becoming fashionable in Nepal now.

Why did you switch to traditional clothing from contemporary clothing?

When I started, Nepal didn’t have enough demand for Western designer clothing. Hence, I made the switch. But I am happy designing traditional clothes. I love both styles.

You are very influenced by culture and architecture. How do you reflect this in your bridal wear?

I am very inspired by culture and architecture but the way it translates into my bridal designs is very subtle. I went on a trip to Rajasthan recently and the zig-zag outline of their historical forts inspired the embroidery pattern of my bridal lehenga. I am also always looking at interior spaces and how certain colour arrangements look more harmonious than others.

What are the things a bride needs to know before customising?

A designer’s job is to create a perfect design so that there is no need for brides to customise anything except the size. For lehengas and saris, we let the customers decide on the cut of the blouse as not everyone is comfortable with a low neckline or open back. Of course, we can change certain details if requested but overall the original design has to be respected. Otherwise, there is no point in calling yourself a designer.

Bridal trends for 2020…

I think velvet is on its way out as it has become too common and the quality of the fabric has become cheap in recent years. Original velvet is sadly no longer available. Also, the Maharani lehenga look with a long train and crown looks very outdated. Modern brides prefer not to look like princesses or royals. They want to look more contemporary and liberated. Also, contrast colours should be reserved for Mehendi or Sangeet ceremonies. For the main wedding day, monochromatic colours will look more elegant and make you stand out. Brides are wearing more natural makeup and experimenting with softer colours. Lastly, red is always in fashion for brides and will never go out of style.

You would love to design for…

I would like to see everyone wear my designs. In the future, I would like to dress someone who stands for the environment. It would be interesting to create a bridal design out of organic materials and hand-woven, natural fibres. Even if it looks simple, something like that takes a lot of time and effort to create. It’s just an idea at the moment. But I plan to do it someday.

Who are your bridal style icons?

Bianca Jagger when she wore a white men’s suit to her wedding. More recently it would be Anushka Sharma.

You can never go wrong with…

The colour red and a Benarasi sari.

Your bridal design aesthetic

Understated elegant, modern yet timeless!

Tenzin Tseten Bhutia

Tenzin Tseten Bhutia has been fearless in experimenting with his designs and has redefined Nepali fashion with his flamboyant and quirky prints and unconventional silhouettes. Although it has been just a few years that he has started bridal wear, he has already become the trendsetter in the market. His collection includes lots of fabric covered boning, little bit of embroidery, and overall comfort for the bride.

Your design is a mixture of both contemporary and traditional. Hoe challenging is it to put these two together?

It is very challenging since there are many factors that you need to consider while maintaining a fine balance between the two. You have to make sure one doesn’t empower the other.

From being someone who was very scared to try your hands at bridal wear to receiving so much appreciation for your collection. How does it feel?

On top of the world. I think a wedding is a dream for a girl and fulfilling the desire of being beautiful on that day and choosing my design itself is a huge thing. This concept itself is what dragged me towards it.

You have worked with Manoviraj Khosla and you were one of the finalists of the show ‘Let’s Design’. How has this helped shape you as a designer?

A lot. Designing is a lifelong learning process and every step I take whether in terms of internship or participating in a reality show, it has nurtured me in many ways. I am glad I have a lot more to learn in the coming days. I am trying my hands at things I haven’t done before. The journey itself is very exciting.

What part of the design process do you enjoy the most?

Conceptualising the design makes me the happiest. Your imagination takes you places. And that’s something I enjoy the most. Then it’s the execution; actually it’s the whole process (laughs).

What are your favourite materials and embellishments to work with?

Give me a material and I will turn that into something really beautiful. I enjoy working with any material that goes under the machine.

Bridal trends for 2020…

I see a lot of subtle work with comfort being the priority. In terms of colour, I see brides trying different pastel colours rather than the typical red. This allows designers to work in an elaborate manner.

Who is your bridal style icon?

From the recent ones, I would say Priyanka Chopra for how she approached both Indian and Western weddings and embraced both the traditions in an amazing manner.

Three things that make a bridal outfit complete

Comfort, uniqueness and a pretty smile.

You can never go wrong with…

I would say choosing the right colour and silhouette in terms of your body structure and complexion.

Your bridal design aesthetic

Comfortable, colourful and experimental.

Manish Rai

Manish Rai launched his first bridal collection Behuli at the Nepal Fashion Week in 2017. Every single piece of his designs are handcrafted with attention to detail reflecting the personal style of the individual for whom he is designing. For his new bridal collection, he will be working on Nepali heritage celebrating Visit Nepal 2020.

What do you prefer for your brides: pastels or dark tones?

Dark tones.

Why did you change your focus from haute couture to bridal wear?

Haute couture is high sewing and includes everything which requires detailed hand craftsmanship. I believe I am still into haute couture.

You specialise in bespoke bridal and evening wear, what attracted you towards this genre?

It is the demand by the public which attracted me towards it. I believe your design should be sold. After all it is a business.

What do today’s brides mostly prefer?

Brides prefer lehengas for receptions and saris for the wedding ceremony. But there are few who want to experiment with their looks and opt for gowns.

Bridal trends for 2020

Long trains on their skirt

You would love to design for…

Princess Himani Rajya Laxmi Shah. I would love to design a red sari with detailed gold embroideries of lali gurans (rhododendron) and danphe on it and drape it in a Rana style with matching chaubandi.

Who are your bridal style icons?

I am always awed by the Rana Maharanis from the past.

Three things that make a bridal outfit complete

Long red veil, silk saris and chaubandi.

One bridal trend that will never go wrong

Chaubandi with silk sari. Both in red colour

Your bridal design aesthetic

Elegant, adorable and rich.

Siwangi Pradhan

Siwangi Pradhan finds the entire process of bringing someone’s imagination to life fascinating. The embroidery detailing work is what makes her collection stand out.

Which colour pattern do your clients mostly prefer?

Usually, people come to me for three functions: the engagement, wedding day and reception. For the engagement look, people nowadays like to go for lighter shades, mostly pastel colours. For the wedding day, they lean towards red as per our tradition. For the reception look, some people prefer red while others opt for pastel shades.

How do create the Newari touch in your designs?

I was born into a Newari family so the culture has greatly influenced me ever since I was a child. Since I am so familiar with the culture, I like to capture the essence of it in my craft.

What is your favourite material or embellishment to work on?

Lately, I have been experimenting with velvet with kardana and zari work.

Bridal trends for 2020

2020 will be all about a new colour palettes, something that our market has never seen before, bolder designs and a whole lot of embroidery.

You would love to design for

Manisha Koirala in a regal Nepali bridal silhouette.

Three things that make a bridal outfit complete

Makeup, jewellery, and styling

A bridal trend that will never go wrong

Stand collar closed neck, full sleeves regal bridal look

Your bridal design aesthetic

Colour, embroidery and finishing.