The Story Of Shravya Varma -- The Love For Fabric And Textile
Each one of us has a need to look good within our own capacities. From going to school, college, office, a marriage reception, a family get together or a date, there is a need for each and every one of us to look our best. Though for most us, designing and styling our clothes is occasional, the excitement that runs in our heads during those times is truly refreshing and energetic. It gives a high! All of a sudden we feel artistic about ourselves. Designing or styling ourselves is not taught to us in school or college, it comes merely by one’s interest towards ‘Fashion.’
It is this charm towards fashion that drew Shravya Varma to pursue a career as a designer and stylist. Regarded as the youngest designer out in the market, Shravya is very much the coming-of-age breed of designer, who is not just bold but very sensible in her approach towards styling. She entered the fashion world at the age of 17 and ever since has glorified the world of fashion in her own way. ‘Shravya Varma’ is now a label most of the younger generation in Telugu cinema loves to work with. Apart from boldly claiming that she doesn’t hold any degree in fashion, every time she gets an opportunity to style or design, she ensures to capture your attention.
Costume Designing in movies was only restricted to a few songs back in the 90s. From such times, Shravya Varma stands as one of the leading designers who introduced the concept of ‘stylist’ in Telugu cinema. She just didn’t put a few colourful pieces of cloth together, but instead spoke through her designs. She boasts of being a rule-breaker in fashion and loves to rephrase her definition is styling every now and then. VoxSpace happened to catch up with this interesting designer who obliged to patiently answer everything we bugged her with.
Hi Shravya, I’m sure most of our audience already know you. Like we all know Shravya Varma as the youngest fashion designer from Hyderabad who’s got a great following on social media etc. But, tell us about the Shravya we do not know about?
The fact that I studied 5 years of architecture isn’t something a lot of people know. I have never done a course in fashion so, how I am here is beyond me. People have a perception of me that I am a very social person because of my social media presence and networking. But in reality, no one notices that the friends who surround me and the regular places I hang out at have been pretty consistent over the years. I stick with the same girl gang and the same chai in my hand.
I love thought stimulating conversations, anything with an old soul or vintage, warm and passionate people and new places.
Nice! So, How did you find your calling as a designer for a career and what all went into coming this far?
I was always someone who indulged in some or the other activity since I was a child. All through my teens, I have done a lot of dance classes, martial arts, gymnastics, and kickboxing. When I got to college, in summers, I used to take up fun summer jobs. I worked with a radio station for 2 years, I worked for an event management company and I chanced upon designing exactly like that. Although I just chanced upon designing, I knew from my early teens that I wanted to do something in fashion. So, I consciously reached out for a summer job in this field. I was supposed to assist a designer to learn the craft, but fortunately for me and unfortunately for him, that designer, whom I was supposed to assist, got arrested for some illegal activity and I got the job. So, I never got to assist anyone but I ended up diving into one project after another which led me from commercial photoshoots to a TV show then to movies and here I am.
That being said, I do not think I have come all that far as you mentioned. I have a lot more to do and strive for, so I am excited to see what else could I venture out into in the near future.
That’s the way you keep the spirit going. Wonderful! So, what does the term ‘fashion designing’ mean to you? And the most widely asked question – to a layman what exactly does the term ‘fashion’ mean?
To me, Fashion is an expression. It’s simple like rocket science. 😀
Okay! How does a typical day at work pass for you? And how do you go about maintaining the same creative zeal day in any day out across various projects?
I typically take up 2-3 appointments a day in terms of retail commitments. Other than that, I will have fittings, meetings, presentations for upcoming films, sourcing from designers, invoices, film-related homework, travel, shooting sets, more shoots and same generic stuff.
But, all of this does not have consistency in my field of work. I will have 20-hour work days in one week and then I will have none for the next week. So, the exciting weeks are just as many as my boring ones. It’s difficult to have a “typical day” in this work. We have some work to be done, before the shoot begins, during and in some cases even after as well.
Now, talking about maintaining the same zeal… to be quite honest. There are many days when I wake up and think I don’t want to do this anymore and then later I wake up to a project that excites me followed by another dull day. It’s really not easy to actually maintain the same high spirits all the time.
I have come to terms with the fact that I won’t have a bright day every day. I have days I lose to my competition. I have my days where I give in to pressure. I also have days I rise above all of this. But, in the end, everytime someone recognizes my work and effort, it gives me a high.
Let’s talk inspirations now -- Who would you consider as your biggest inspiration in this field, and why? Also, while we are on the subject, how would you want to portray your thoughts in your designs? Is there a particular set of ideas that you seem to stick to whilst designing?
I was very fascinated by Manish Arora from the time I started to learn about design. I like his avant-garde personality, fearless representation, out of the box expression and fantasy driven presentation. I would any day jump at the opportunity of assisting him. I hate it when people put rules in design. Be it in any field of design. I love the rule breakers and the rule-breaking design. A design doesn’t make sense to me if its generic. It has to carry one set of elements at the least to focus on.
It’s rare for me to get such chances but in some movies, I get a chance to do elaborate clothing and some brides I get to experiment with. However, every single commitment will come with their own set of imaginations and visuals. It’s very rare to express completely and explicitly. So, I try to incorporate simple little things in pretty much my personal clothes and gifts. For example, I had small little cameras printed once on a fabric and stitched that into a shirt for a close friend of mine.
What are the best lessons you’ve learnt all through your tenure as a designer so far?
I am lucky to have gotten a chance to design in the movies. I get to dive into different characters and I love the research part of the entire project. I learned a lot of things as a designer from each technician whom I worked with. Like from the DOP’s, I learnt so much about the colour palettes and how they react to light if its outside or otherwise. I learnt about design beyond just clothes. I could style a rice bag with bougainvillaea flowers and play great vintage music and use a background with an exposed brick wall and voila. It will look like all kinds of poetry. So, it always doesn’t depend on the clothes.
In movies, we must let the character dominate the clothes but we can always present it well, which is also the reason why we are considered the most underrated profession in the film industry. Of course, individually it’s a different game altogether. But, even when I take up orders for bridal wear, my method of working carries forward from films and I insist on knowing the personality of the bride first.
Interesting approach. Could you tell us what’s the next big thing you are planning or looking to venture if any?
I want to be a part of storytelling and every chaos that happens behind the camera. So, I am hoping to venture out into something beyond design. I hope I get as lucky as I was with designing in whatever I choose to do up next.
Any tip and tricks from your side for aspiring designers?
Don’t follow any rules, be original, be you!
Guess this is what you have been all through your career. Now, from some heaviness, let’s get a little lighter on talks…
If given the power or chance, what are the three things you would throw out from this world?
I would throw away peoples’ ability to lie. The bridge between genders and yes, mosquitoes!!
What is your biggest fantasy in life?
My fantasy would probably be chilling with people I really look upto.. like Ellen Degeneres, Bruno Mars, Beyonce or someone fantastic like that.
If you had a parallel life in your dreams, what would you be in that?
You know, I think I should have pursued sports. Although I don’t regret it, I always thought instead of giving 13 years of my life and effort into dance, I should have focused my energy on to a sport. I envy their spirit. So, answering your question, I would have been into sports.
One fine morning, if you are given a million dollars to spend only on ONE thing apart from apparels, what would be that and why?
I would buy a world tour ticket that will last me a year or more. Because I love travelling, seeing new places, getting lost, not having to have a schedule, learning about new cultures, tasting different cuisines, studying lifestyle and history. There is never enough to spend on experiences. I have goosebumps as I say this.
What’s the one thing you love to do in your leisure times?
I love NOT doing anything. I kill my time with Netflix and YouTube. I love watching real-life crime, conspiracies, documentaries and history. Anything crime is my favourite thing to watch 😛 I love criminal interviews, investigations, case files.
Okay Shravya, before we wrap this, I’d like to take you through a ‘Quick Bites’ session.
Describe The Following People/Things In The Shortest And The Funniest Way Possible
Lavanya Tripathi – The person I would call to help hide the body if I killed someone.
Sunday Morning – Reoccurs for me throughout the week.
Hyderabad – Super duper defensive and proud of my city.
Trisha -- Dollface!
Vijay Deverakonda – My little child (kiddo konda)…. LOL!!
Weekend –I believe a person can consider himself successful only when his weekend can be summoned whenever he wants.
Tell Us The First Thing That Strikes Your Mind When I Mention The Following
Nagarjuna Akkineni – Visual treat for women
Ram Gopal Varma – Most kind, honest and the funniest man I know.
Ashwini Ponnappa – Purest soul with a beautiful face.
Telugu Cinema -- Home
Grandfather -- Would take a bullet for him without a blink of an eye.
Long Drive – All day.. every day..any day!
College – Regret it.
Mobile Phone -- My weapon.
This was fun!! Thanks a lot, Shravya, for your patience and time.
Design Your Destiny. Until Next Time Then.