We talk to model turned fashion designer Siwangi Pradhan as she takes us through her extraordinary journey as an ordinary girl.
Whenever we think of a model, we imagine the grace and the poise. But above all, we imagine an attitude that is usually very difficult to deal with. We have heard and seen star tantrums and we usually, and most of the time, wrongly associate everyone in this industry with that image. But some of them are pretty ordinary, but in an extraordinary way.
“I am very shy,” says Siwangi Pradhan. “I do not open up so easily. I have very few friends most of whom are quite close to me. It takes a long time for me to socialize but my friends outside the modeling circle can connect to me just as easily. Most of the time, I have a pretty ordinary Kathmandu life.”
Siwangi is a leading face on ramps and in magazines around Nepal. She is popular for a range of reasons; one being a model, of course. But her journey takes her beyond the pretty picture in a magazine.
“My first assignment took me to the ramp of Kathmandu Fashion Parade. It was an amazing experience,” remembers Siwangi. “I wasn’t treated as a first time model, both personally and professionally. Since then, I have been a part of a range of events, from shows in Nepal Fashion Week to that of Trendsetters.” After the start, Siwangi’s journey began with pomp. There were magazines and photo shoots and assignments that took her around Nepal, making the entire glamor world a reality that is new to many of us.
Siwangi had always been a good student. But she had a flair for fashion early on. “When I was young, I used to participate in beauty pageants. Though I was into pageants, I do not consider myself a fashionable kid. I have always liked studying,” smiles Siwangi.
It was her dad who got her into these platforms. “My dad was really interested in these competitions. He knew a lot of people and it was through him that I did a couple of advertisements as well. I was a stubborn kid who did what she wanted. I wanted this experience and enjoyed it as much as my studies,” says Siwangi.
Her real exposure to the modeling world was at the age of 17 and it was quite unplanned. “There were a bunch of my friends backstage during the practice of Kathmandu Fashion Parade. Makeup artist, Sakil was there too. Suddenly, everyone just told me to walk like a model. And I did. Sakil thought I was ready to walk the ramp. I just knew how to do it because I was trained during the beauty pageants I participated as a kid. I had received training from Prashant Tamrakar. But I did not know that I could still do it so easily. After that, I started modeling,” shares Pradhan.
But her biggest challenge has been Nepal as a society which is yet to open up to the glamor business, especially when it comes to women. We are a conservative society that does not take this industry seriously. We need to change that. “We have a lot of family restrictions. My family has been very supportive of me, especially my dad who is familiar with this world. But even then, the glamor world has demands that our society can get judgmental about. We need to stay out late and we also need to go for location shootings. All this needs to be understood gracefully which sadly, our society still does not,” laments Siwangi.
Accidental Model and Deliberate Designer
Though Siwangi started off as a model, today she considers herself to be a more serious designer than a model. While doing fashion week, she realized that her true interest was in designing. She knew about the fashion world as she had been in it for quite some time. Now she felt she could give Nepali fashion industry a taste of good fashion. “We need to develop our fashion industry. There are a very few good designers in Nepal who have the potential to contribute truly to the Nepal Fashion Industry. She hopes to be one of them.
“I still believe that modeling is not my career. I am an accidental model and that is why I have been very particular about the assignments and brands that I choose. I do not take up every work that comes my way. I am very particular about my career. But I am a deliberate designer. I work hard to get things done and I am practicing everyday to make this happen, “says Siwangi. Today, Siwangi has her own show going on. She designs for events like Nepal Fashion Week, which she hopes to do in April this year as well.
Her designs speak normalcy. She prefers a chic look with a lot of nude colors and blacks. She prefers jumpsuits and pants to gowns. Her designs are simple while her colors are easy.
“I think I like designing more than bright colors and prints of fabrics. I want those colors and materials which can show designs. I think it is difficult to showcase your ability as a designer in loud colors. I want my designs to be highlighted. That is why I keep it simple,” says Siwangi.
Her designs are being liked and she is quickly getting the attention that she deserves. She is sought after for shoots and fashion shows. She however thinks she has a lot to learn.
“I have been learning designing at IEC School of Designing for seven months now. I work hard as a designing student to learn the basics. There are a lot of designers who get into designing without knowing what goes on in it. I don’t want to be one of them. I knew how to sketch but I didn’t know the names of the designs. I want to know everything, even cutting the fabrics,” smiles Siwangi.
The yes and no of being a model
“Everyone knows you! You are in the limelight. You have to enjoy that. You get used to seeing yourself in good magazines and advertisements. It is good to be in this industry because people know you wherever you go. I enjoy that,” says Siwangi.
“Modeling is not as easy as people think it is; it can be very challenging. We are growing as an industry and as a society. We have a long way to go. Not everyone can be a model. You need to work very hard. More than that, you need to invest in yourself. For the first few years, you will need to work on yourself. From your diet to your appearance, you need to make sure everything is perfect. You cannot get paid easily either. It is a field that requires perseverance. There are things here that are fake. You need to deal with it and develop as a model and as a human being.