A Renaissance Woman

19 February, 2020

We distinctly remember the first time we met Shweta Sharma aka Betty. She had won the Betty of Elle contest and joined Elle India as a fashion intern. She instantly stood out with her unique aesthetic and work ethic. Costumier, creative director, stylist, she’s made her mark as a multi-hyphenate designer/creative.

In a world of mass aesthetic and Pinterest mood boards, Shweta lives life with a real drive to build her own personal creative language. What she wears, how she keeps her house, her art, her study table, how she speaks, what she reads - all reflect her state of mind. A little nostalgic, with hints of eras by-gone, all juxtaposed with really modern sensibilities. WE LOVE IT! Can’t help but fan-girl over her unconventional, authentic spin on our new season pieces.

It seems like you dress for yourself. What inspires your distinct, eclectic and cool sense of style?
I do dress for myself. The elegance of the past era, theatrics, bits of pop culture, cross-pollination of fashion subcultures and streetwear is a favourite bit in dressing up.

We would love to delve into your imagination and your thinking process. How do you approach things creatively when starting on a project?
Before starting on a new project, feeling a slight rush of excitement is crucial. Once I feel excited about the project I start picking up visual cues from books I am reading or gazing at YouTube videos, lots of Instagram scrolling, also a curated setting to work in and the right playlist are absolutely essential to fire the thinking process. 

Shweta wears the Jameela Dress

We love the two artworks you have painted, could you tell us a little about these?
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in her 73 questions with Vogue quoted "We write because we want to fall in love twice". That's my answer too. 

Tell us a bit about the artist's retreat travel experience. It looked very interesting, how could one be a part of this?
It was an artist residency - with a research approach on the topic of Gender and Adornment with Norwegian Crafts and Praksis Oslo. It was an amazing experience to live a life in Oslo with a curated group of artists and researchers from around the world who came together with an interest in the same theme. 
There are many residencies around the world that offer a creative environment to create personal projects or work with a group. Resartis.org/ and Transartists.org/ are two websites that list a bunch of residencies that one can apply to.

Shweta's house is full of such eclectic keepsakes.

Can you think of a memorable crossroads in your path to now? What was that like and how’d you decide what to do?
Oh, so many! During my last semester at NIFT, while I was developing a graphic design project, I won the "Betty of Elle" internship, it’s been ten years and I am still called Betty by friends and industry (I must have been a stellar intern). I make decisions to quench my curiosity, a lot of times they don't lie anywhere near my comfort zone but all fruits should be tasted once at least.

How has growing up in a small city in India, affected your creative thought process? Do you feel like you notice things that others don't?
Yes. I grew up in  Meerut and moved to Bombay at 18 and then I grew up a lot more. After my first three months in Bombay when I went back home for holidays, I was shocked at how my eye-line had adjusted to the high rises in Bombay that the whole city of Meerut felt like it had been crushed down by a bulldozer. 
I feed off the paradox of Bombay being my spirit city and Meerut being my hometown a lot - I would say living in Bombay makes me notice things in Meerut a lot more. 

Moving to Bombay and settling down there, what do you miss most about home?
Parks and swings and the joy in lesser things. 

Shweta wears the Afreen Silk Sari

“I have been fascinated by the lightweight breezy Jodi silk saris, I wanted to wear it and feel a blowing in the wind moment. I dislike high heels and I wear red Mary Janes to dress up any outfit I am given. These days I am accessorising with a lot of pearls and headbands that add an inch to my height.”

Growing up what sources did you love reading or surfing online? Any source that you feel like informed your aesthetic?
I had a book of Russian folk tales written in Hindi, a few books that taught how to paint in watercolour that I could replicate really well, the Shakespeare books in school, and my art teacher in high school could have informed my aesthetic. 

What do you do for fun?
I do everything for fun.

Magazines you love to read?
Buffalo Zine, I-D, Another Man.

Favourite spots in Bandra? And why did you choose to live in Bandra? 
Mount Mary at midnight and the furthest corner of Joggers Park at 8 pm. I chose to live in Bandra because of convenience, styling life ten years ago involved being on Hill Road a lot. Also, the lanes of Bandra dotted with trees, etc and the cool people who all lived in Bandra once upon a time.

Shweta wears the Tarana Tiered Dress.

Walking around one of her favourite spots in Mumbai, Mount Mary Church at Bandra.

Name a song that instantly takes you to the dance floor.
Catgroove by Parov Stelar

An iconic artist/fashion designer whose muse you'd like to be?
Oooh yes - Alessandro Michelle and David Hockney

Pictures by Siddhant Vaidya