Renowned for her blossomy bridal wear, Anushree Reddy welcomes us to Hyderabad with tales of her journey and love for fun, feminine aesthetics — while Tollywood ‘First Wife’ Miheeka Bajaj Daggubati plays muse in the designer’s newest creations.
Nestled in a picturesque, leafy part of Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills, Anushree Reddy’s new store in the city is a marvel in design. Antique accents and lush sanctuaries of plants make it an oasis in what is otherwise a city of hustle and bustle. At the entrance is a wooden horse that welcomes guests, its majestic hooves up in the air, followed by a magnificently pruned garden with a pond nearby. Koi swim tranquilly in it, while hummingbirds peck at the heliconia blooms that are sprouting above.
It’s here that we get to meet Miheeka Bajaj Daggubati, a mental health advocate and wife to one of Tollywood’s major movers and shakers, Rana Daggubati. Anushree’s muse for the day, Miheeka stuns our style team and photographer with her simple elegance and doe-like beauty.
As the face of Hyderabad’s design-scape, Anushree has come a long way since she started her journey a little over a decade ago. The Sabyasachi of the South, she has dressed brides across the region and beyond and made a name for herself as a formidable force in bridal fashion. Her floral patterns, use of gold thread, larger-than-life lehengas and ornate embellishments make her a maximalist like no other in her immediate periphery.
Growing up in the Hyderabad of the 90s and 2000s was like being a part of a large family where everyone knew everyone. This holds true for Anushree and Miheeka, as well, who have been part of the same circle of friends for a couple of decades now.
“Miheeka is one of the prettiest girls in the city and is a dream for any designer to dress. I always tell her so,” shares Anushree. “She’s elegant and carries herself with dignity… It was a pleasure to associate with her for this shoot.”
“Personally, I’ve known Miheeka for ages now. We’ve been family friends, so having her don my creations is that much more special.”
Appreciating the creations from Anushree’s newest collection, Miheeka adds: “Anushree’s ensembles and designs exude a delightful, light and breezy vibe. Her creations are known for their whimsical charm and suitability for any occasion. Her collections offer a wide range of options and ensure that there’s something for everyone. They are beautiful, elegant and comfortable, which make them a popular choice among fashionistas.”
Journey In Design
For someone who never formally trained in fashion design, Anushree has traversed an ardent path, having learned the ropes through trial and error. It was her penchant for dreamy, feminine ensembles and own need for bespoke traditional wear that drove her to start designing.
“My journey into design started with a pure passion for clothes. I didn’t study fashion but instead pursued an MBA from Cardiff University,” Anushree shares her story. “I neither had any idea or technical know-how, nor did I understand the business of fashion.”
“I learned everything on the job and in a manner that made me a ground-level worker. It was tough but came with its perks. Since I wasn’t formally trained, I didn’t bring any preconceived notions of design to the table. I’m not limited in my thinking and can let my mind run free when it comes to creating fashion. I can put things together in a way that’s not expected of design students, which lets me think differently.”
When her label originally started, Anushree primarily catered to a select group of ladies and brides in the city. Their patronage gave her the confidence to think bigger, and soon, the designer set her sights on the national market.
“Lakmé Fashion Week is a great option for designers looking to grow their brand,” explains Anushree about her entry onto the national fashion scene. “I made my debut in 2013, and it gave me a great platform. It opened my eyes to the larger scheme of things. I was discovered by major retailers like Aza and Ogaan, among others, who stocked my creations.”
“I also believe that fashion week pushes you to do your best and deliver a new look each season; it takes you out of your comfort zone. As a designer, you can’t keep showcasing the same look over and over again when you get into the fashion-week game. I truly cherish the opportunities this gave me.”
Hyderabad, The Inspiration
While late to the fashion game, Hyderabad caught up quickly to a burgeoning luxury and design boom. Today, stores and boutiques of designers from across the country have mushroomed in the city, including stores of homegrown labels that retail everything from resort lines to party wear. A new generation of designers today rules the roost in Hyderabad, with an evolved aesthetic that’s been exposed to the West, thanks to the brutal editing practices of national fashion weeks.
As Miheeka says, “Hyderabad has emerged as a thriving fashion hub, with individuals embracing fashion as a means to experiment and express themselves.”
The land of the Nizams, the city has been home to ancient crafts and cultures for several centuries. On the subject of her own aesthetic sense, Anushree explains: “For me, inspiration comes from my surroundings and my upbringing; it comes from what I’ve seen growing up. I use Zardozi, which is a very Nizami technique with a long history. And being from Hyderabad, I’ve seen so much of it in the richest manner possible. So using it in my clothes comes naturally.”
“I tend to gravitate towards feminine, delicate designs. I believe in an overall dainty, soft aesthetic, and I don’t go for bold or large patterns. My aesthetics as a designer are young, fun and feminine, with the use of floral prints, which we reinvent every season. The young bride is who we design for.”
With a new store opened in Mumbai recently, Anushree has been a busy lady. The designer says: “It was a store that we put together in a very tight time frame. But it’s in a city that has my heart, so it’s all the more special.”
Not just a favourite of local brides, Anushree’s creations have made an impact in the NRI market as well as with brides flying down from the US and UK to choose their ensembles here.
“The NRI market is very occasion driven, unlike the Indian market. It’s very focused, and theirs is a one-time buy,” says Anushree. “They are very clear about what they want and order a year in advance. So we follow a completely different timeline for them.
“The palette that NRI brides choose is also different. They like their ivories and dusty roses, while Indian brides prefer traditional reds. Also, over the years, I’ve seen that NRI brides are not bound by tradition. It’s always a destination wedding and a smaller get-together, so they get to do things differently. Many of them nowadays travel to India solely to shop for their ensembles.”
The Designer and Her Muse
As we wrap up our shoot, Anushree and Miheeka, both designer and muse, appear to be at ease with the decadence and opulence of the jewels they adorn and the grandeur of the haute couture outfits that surround them. Miheeka, who’s been busy with her work at Mudita — a foundation she helped start — is readying herself to board a flight to Mumbai to catch up with her partner Rana, who’s there for a shoot.
Telling us more about the foundation, Miheeka shares: “Mudita means the joy of bringing happiness to others, which is the essence of our mission. Here, we raise awareness and provide information about mental health to individuals facing such conditions as well as to their support systems. Our ultimate goal is to assist as many people as possible and work towards eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health.”
For Anushree, the future seems to be one blessed with growth and activity, as becomes abundantly clear when we hear of the designer’s plans to foray into different zones.
“I’d love to foray into wedding décor. I also see myself designing homes, upholstery, furniture… I look at design as a whole. So creativity, for me, is not limited to clothes,” she shares. “The next 10 years are a very important time for the brand. We are going to expand in ways that will keep us relevant and on the cutting edge of bridal trends.”
And on that note, we bid adieu to the duo as they call it a day, each pursuing her goals with a zeal that’s rare to encounter but so impressive to be around.
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the July 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!