Nepal’s top 3 fashion designers known across the world: What’s special about them anyway?

L-R: Mishu Shrestha, Prabal Gurung and Sanyukta Shrestha
L-R: Mishu Shrestha, Prabal Gurung and Sanyukta Shrestha

Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish writer, once said, “Believe there are no limits, but the sky.” There are very few who live up to this statement among billions of people in the world and make their own legacy and mark in their own field in the world. We are talking about three fashion designers from Nepal who belong to that category.

These three people have done something more than Nepal’s celebrated fashion designers. They have made a name of themselves among world-known fashion designers in the arena of glitz and glamour. From their residences in three continents of the world, they have made the Nepalis proud of their designs and creativity. But, why? What is special about them?

We will discuss.

1. Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung
Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung needs no introduction; he is a brand himself. Gurung, born in Singapore to his Nepali parents, grew up in Kathmandu. He completed his schooling at St Xavier’s School. After that, he started his career as a fashion designer in New Delhi, India. He joined the National Institute of Fashion Technology there and studied fashion designing. During his course of study, he worked at many local production houses and for many fashion designers. He also did an apprenticeship under Manish Arora, who is regarded as “the John Galliano of India”. He received plenty of exposure and experience during the foundation years of his career.

Grabbing the opportunity, he assisted designers in Melbourne and London for fashion shows and global media. He then went to New York in 1999. He enrolled himself at Parsons School of Design and alongside he worked under Donna Karan. After completing his education, he worked with Cynthia Rowley’s design team for about two years. Then, he joined fashion house Bill Blass as design director and worked there for five years.

And, finally, the celebrated fashion designer launched his own line, Prabal Gurung, in 2009 during New York Fashion Week. Following this, his designs made it to a fashion show at Bryant Park in Tents; this was his debut at runways.

His designs have been worn by personalities including Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, Catherine, Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Kamala Harris, Demi Moore, Kerry Washington and also Bollywood celebrities like Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. He had many accolades in his name including the 2010 Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award, 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner up, the 2011 CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear and the inaugural Creativity Award from The Drawing Center.

2. Sanyukta Shrestha

Photo: Screengrab from Sanyukta Shrestha's website.
Photo: Screengrab from Sanyukta Shrestha’s website.

Sanyukta Shrestha is another Nepali-born fashion designer celebrated worldwide. Shrestha, who is based in London, launched her first international collection under her own name in 2011, specialising in sustainable bridal and luxury wear.

With the launch, the celebrated fashion designer introduced sustainability to the bridal wear industry for the first time, thus redefining the market for bridal wear. Her designs are made out of eco-friendly fibres such as hemp, banana, milk, organic silk and wild nettle and are handcrafted and timeless. Due to her commitment towards sustainable fashion, she has earned accolades from media in words such as “the dawn of the sustainable movement” and “the Greta of the Wedding World”. One of her sustainable creations was preserved in the Fashion Museum in Bath in 2012. 

Shrestha envisioned a sustainable and eco-friendly fashion brand a long time back when she was volunteering for World Wildlife Fund Nepal (WWF) and Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) in Nepal during the early years of her career. She has won multiple awards nationally and internationally, including the winner of the luxury category at the PETA Vegan Wedding Awards 2022, Wedding Boutique of The Year London for her bridal outlet named Behuli Boutique, and The Bridal Buyer Award. Her designs are featured in many international magazines and seen in personalities like Candice Swanepoel, Laura Wright, and Amy Nuttall.

3. Mishu Shrestha

Photo: Screengrab/Instagram page

Mishu Shrestha is another celebrated fashion designer in Nepal who has reached many international platforms. Shrestha completed her diploma from the fashion hub of Milan. Immediately after that, she started her own fashion brand, MISHUS Fashion House in Thapathali, Kathmandu, in 2012.  Like Sanyukta Shrestha, Mishu Shrestha is also into promoting sustainable fashion and is known for her cashmere gowns.

She also incorporated Tamang prayer flags, Mithila art and artistic motifs in her western clothing designs. Shrestha is also the first Nepali to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. There, she presented her designs along with three designers from India, Kenya and France as a part of a fashion show, Seven Continents of Fashion.  Her designer gowns were worn by celebrities during the festival. Besides, she has also designed outfits for many celebrities including Hollywood actress Katianna Ley. 

She has also collaborated with Asia Pacific Rayon for producing and exporting sustainable denim and cashmere collections internationally. 

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