Photography Credit: Elvia Gobbo Photography
New York, NY (April 18, 2023)
by Daniel Quintanilla
Few fashion items can be said to hold the interest of the consumer for longer than a season or two at the most. Certain iconic styles have grown to be considered “classics” in fashionable closets, but even those have a history of only a few decades, or at most a hundred years. Designer Sonya Keshwani, however, showed her StyleEsteem collection during New York Bridal Week this week that dates back over 4 millennia. Yes, that’s 4,000 years.
Turbans have been celebrated across the globe, by men and women alike, to honor culture, faith, and fashion for over 4,000 years. Keshwani created her collection, not out of desire, but out of personal need. At 29 years old, she found herself with breast cancer. Her hair was majorly affected by her treatment regimen, and she was faced with having to figure out a way to present herself in a manner that made her feel confident and empowered yet celebrated her own personal beauty and style. Her solution was a Turban. Being of Indian descent, the style was an integral part of her culture.
A few years later, on the cusp of being a bride as well as a 5 year cancer survivor, the designer created a Turban for her wedding in India that reflected not only her heritage, but made her feel beautiful on her special day. Like the turban created for her wedding, designer Sonya Keshwani says, “Every turban is personal because it celebrates the history of the wearer.”
This experience inspired Sonya to launch the StyleEsteem Wardrobe as a way of celebrating culture, style, and strength of not only herself, but of every woman who wanted to wear a turban, regardless of the occasion or purpose. Some needed them as part of their hair journey as Sonya once did, some wanted them to celebrate their heritage, while others wanted them to honor their faith. Keshwani took each of her client’s interests one step further and created a collection under the label “StyleEsteem”.
StyleEsteem embodies the time honored tradition of turbans with fashionable styles for every season and occasion. The collection has grown to not only include a range of turbans that address a wide range of occasions from ceremonial to the everyday, but also head bands, fascinators, and veils, many of which are commissions or made from vintage fabrics in a manner that can only be called couture.
For New York Bridal Week, StyleEsteem by Sonya Keshwani featured 16 styles that had a definitively bridal slant — not in the traditional white and ivory that western cultures count as synonymous with the genre. Keshwani’s talent, combined with her global perspective, created a range that had far more context than one would expect from such a well-focused range of styles. Hand embroidered fabrics — some vintage, and others newly created— tapestry, brocade, hand beaded edging, lace, sequins, and lurex shimmer all came together to masterful result in a palette that began with ivory and included light blue, gold, silver, maroon, peach, before ending on a strikingly rich jewel toned cobalt blue.
Keshwani worked with show producer Myrdith Leon-McCormack who partnered with the iconic InterContinental New York Barclay to secure their luxurious Presidential Penthouse suite for the presentation, as well as noted stylist Mimi Lombardo to pull the full looks together. Lombardo brought in jewelry by luxury Swiss watchmaker Piaget, shoes by vegan shoe designer Pifieri, and dresses by Bibhu Mohapatra, Chiara Boni, Kosibah, and Yellow by Sahar.