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Meet the A-list designers who are pinning  Hyderabad on the fashion map with their cutting-edge creativity 

Hyderabadis love dressing up. “You will never see them repeat outfits for events,” says designer Mrunalini Rao. No wonder that the top fashion designers always have their hands full. A significant few of them have also managed to break the fashion moulds in the year gone by to put the city on the national fashion map. We speak to the cream of them about their aspirations and predictions for the upcoming season.


Mrunalini Rao
Brand: Mrunalini Rao
For this 26-year-old designer who has dressed leading ladies of Tollywood such as Trisha and Lakshmi Manchu, it wasn‘t tough to design for this year’s Fall/Winter collection, The Midnight Bloom. This National Institute of Fashion Technology – Hyderabad graduate incidentally was about to study medicine, but fate had other plans. “I had to fight to make my way in fashion,” says Rao, who interned at an export house and later assisted designer Anushree Reddy, before starting her own boutique in Banjara Hills. She participated in two leading shows last year – India Beach Fashion Week in Goa in May and her first Lakme India Fashion Week in August. Newbie Rao says she has already started working towards the summer collection. “I would be experimenting with pastels and outfits with finer surface embellishments”, says Rao. Her ensembles feature in boutiques of Dubai and London, but she is eyeing more cities this year. So what are the top trends she foresees for next year? Drapes and creative embellishments.

Shriya Bhupal
4Brand: Shriya Som
Did you know that the designer who got a thumbs up from Bollywood star Alia Bhatt for her work got into fashion by accident? “I had applied to Parsons The New School for Design, New York, to be a fine art major. In my first year, I got placed into a fashion class by mistake, and that’s when I designed my first outfit called ‘the runaway bride,’ a wedding skirt that would turn into a backpack. At the end of that class, I realised what fun it was creating that outfit,” says the 27-year-old who launched her label Shriya Som and made her debut at the Lakme India Fashion Week in March. So what keeps her going? “Black coffee, Red Bull and my team.” Her goal for 2017: To apply for the Fashion Design Council of India Fashion Week in Delhi.

 

Architha Narayanam
3Brand: Architha Narayanam
Who would have thought the bylanes of Varanasi can make her the toast of the national fashion circuit? “We worked day in and out for to get our Fall/Winter collection, Kasika Bazaar, ready in time for Lakme Fashion Week. But actress Karisma Kapoor walking the ramp as the showstopper was the best thing that could have happened,” says the 29-year-old, basking in the glory of the collection inspired from the temple town. Known for experimenting with out-of-the-box designs like bridal lehengas with pockets, Narayanam believes that shows like Lakme Indian Fashion Week and India Runway Week 2016, are always a learning experience. “They teach me how to be a hands-on designer. You have to do a lot in five minutes,” says the designer who credits her success to the ability to multi-task. So what’s on the cards for her? A store in the US.

Divya Reddy
1Brand: Divya Reddy
In 2010, she ventured into designing after studying fashion in New York and Chicago. Cut to 2016, her ensembles find a place in leading designer boutiques throughout the country. “My upcoming collection for Spring/Summer 2017 will have Indo-Western ensembles with 100 per cent handlooms. I am sourcing all the wild cotton from local farmers,” says Divya Reddy. The 32-year-old single mom has made it her mission to use handloom from the state to give them a pan-Indian visibility. “So many brides from all over the world want to wear my designs. And after this year’s Fall/Winter 2015-16, the clientele has multiplied. Previously, we used to cater to one branch of one store in the city. After the shows, we started catering to multiple branches,” says the Hyderabadi designer. She thinks that handwoven fabrics and breathable clothing will be the trends in the new year. Her de-stress mantra: Hanging out with her toddler after work.

Archana Rao
Brand: Archana Rao Label
She managed to impress buyers at national runways and international trade shows this year, but she thinks the highlight was the unveiling of her store in Banjara Hills. “Now when my clients walk into my store, they can feel my brand,” says the 31-year-old designer who gets inspired by poems and places. An alumnus of Parsons College of Design, New York, she says trade events such as Capsule in New York, which attracts designers and artists from all over the world, help her grow. This NIFT graduate made news with her Spring/Summer 2016 collection titled A Petticoat which used outerwear as the innerwear. “It makes a woman feel modest, yet attractive”. She does not want to stop there. Her new focus: Unconventional material in conventional garments.

Text: Paulami Sen

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