Seams like royalty
Nepali-Indian designer duo, Vivek Upadhya and Anjul Bhandari, who merged their eye for detail and their power of imagination to launch their own label in 1990, have also been designing for the princesses of the Royal family of Nepal, for a while. On their first visit to the city, the designer duo, who lay a strong emphasis on embroidery in their designs, opened up about their association with the Nepal's royalty and the challenges that come with dressing up princesses
How did the two of you come together as a duo? Also, what keeps you together as partners even after so many years?
Anjul: Being in the same field, we have known each other for many years. We incorporate each other’s work inputs into the final creation and together work at making the designs as beautiful as possible. That’s what keeps us together.
What does it mean to dress up the Nepal princesses?
Anjul: Dressing up the princesses means everything to us; it’s a great honour. We keep in consideration a lot of things before we decide what to design for them.
How much of a challenge arises?
Vivek: It is very challenging — as protocol they are only supposed to be in sarees at public appearances, so we try and do the best we can. But also, the challenge of doing this is what we love.
What are the things that you often design for them?
Anjul: As we mentioned earlier, they are supposed to be dressed only in sarees for their formal functions, so we stick to that look. For informal wear, we design a few suits and anarkalis for them.
Are they very choosy? Or do they trust you with whatever you design?
Vivek: We always sit down and design with them; from sketch board to final creation, all their inputs are extremely important. Ultimately, they are the ones who have to wear the designs. We love designing for them because they are very easy to work with. They give their inputs, but trust our instincts too.
Are the princesses in sync with the latest trends?
Vivek: Yes, of course. They get the latest trends incorporated into their choice of attire. After all, they are princesses and they have to look fabulous and dress up according to the styles in vogue.
Coming to your Mumbai visit, you showcased your collection in the city for the first time. What did the collection include?
Vivek: Our new collection, Threads & Sparkle that we launched in Mumbai a few days back, has vibrant colours, rich fabrics and embroidery in zardozi and chikankari thread, accompanied with intricate muquaish (shiny, silver dots on plain fabric) work to create an opulent festive look.
Could you share your future plans?
Anjul: Our forte is hand embroidery from different parts of India and Nepal. In the coming months and years, we would like to expand to other countries as well. We would like to reach out to the Middle East and our client base in UK and USA in a much bigger way.
The collection is available at Fizaa, Sanjay Plaza, near Juhu Post Office, Juhu.
About Nepal’s Royal Family
Democracy was instituted in the early 1950s in Nepal with the approval of King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram, who became a constitutional monarch. His son and successor, King Mahendra, grabbed more power and ended up as an absolute monarch. In 1990, Mahendra’s son King Birendra bowed to pressure from his subjects and proclaimed a new constitution, which returned the kingdom to democracy. The king remained the head of state. In 2001, the royal family was massacred, reportedly, by King Birendra’s son Crown Prince Dipendra under the influence of drugs. After King Dipendra’s death, Birendra’s brother Gyanendra became king. Some of the princesses of Nepal’s royal family include Princess Himani Shah, Princess Kritika Rajya Lakshmi Devi, Prerana Rajya Laxmi Devi Singh, Princess Purnika Rajya Lakshmi Devi, Princess Dilasha and Princess Steeshama.