Designers to Watch: Neha Kapur Nayyar

Neha Kapur Nayyar is MUCH more than a pretty face. Although she started her career accidentally falling into the world of modeling – walking high fashion runways for 14 years and eventually going on to become Miss India – she is now the owner and Creative Director of the stunningly beautiful clothing line, Hensely. A breath of fresh air in this sometimes seemingly over-saturated fashion world, we were lucky enough to chat with this soulful New Delhi design school grad and hear all about her past, present and most importantly the bright future that she (and Hensely) so clearly have in front of them.


Who would you say is the ideal Hensely girl and what is her aesthetic?

When I think of the Hensely girl she’s the modern girl in the modern world – she’s living a real life, doing all the same things as everyone else does (she’s normal). She goes through life curious about it, wanting to learn more. She travels, she’s inspired, loves art and not necessarily stands out for what she’s wearing but more so for who she is and her story.

What inspired you to change directions in your career and what do you take with you (if anything) from the modeling world into your new role as Creative Director and designer?

I always wanted to create something and it felt very organic to change directions. [As a model] I spent so much time behind the scenes and backstage learning, always being told what to wear and how to walk, I was always telling someone else’s story and sharing their aesthetic. I learned that this is what I loved – I was fascinated by it – but I wanted to convey my own ideas and express myself, I needed to create something in this field. There is something so beautiful about making a girl feel beautiful about herself and I get excited to wake up each day and sketch, to work with dream fabrics, I feel so fortunate to love what I do.


Neha for Vogue India 2013

There’s an effortless chic to your designs. Is this typically how you dress day-to-day or do you like to dress depending on your mood?

Honestly, I’m a creature of habit. I’ll buy the same products over and over again but I don’t get stuck on one brand necessarily (I like getting out there and seeing different things) but love familiar silhouettes. Whenever I go to shop, I never shop thinking I’m going to wear this twice and that’s it and that’s what I wanted to create out of Hensely. I wanted to make these elevated staples for your wardrobe that are seasonless and of the highest quality yet don’t overwhelm the customer’s existing wardrobe and can go along with everything you already have.

What fabrics and/or techniques do you find yourself drawn to more often than not during your design process?

To me the most important thing – beyond the idea of a sketch or technique – it’s about not skimping and spending the time and effort to get the absolute best fabrics. We also spend a lot of time working on the fabrics to get them perfect like with our super lightweight cotton, lightweight silks or buttery suede which is shaved down to get it to that perfect weight. Just the feel and the touch of it, I mean, the moment you feel and wear an amazing fabric you instantly walk differently. You wear it differently than you would something else, you stand taller, your shoulders back, head held high, you walk with more confidence.


Where did you draw inspiration from for SS16 and how do you see Hensely evolving next season?

I’ve been drawn to the simplicity of Japanese culture since I was a kid. The draping and those wonderful kimono belts create beautiful shapes, so I loved the idea of creating clothes that just fell on their own, naturally, without having to fuss too much over them. As a classically trained dancer I wanted the clothes to move as fluid as dance is, the ability to move freely through life without any restrictions.

I want each collection to somewhat draw inspiration from the one that came before it. It’s important to have the seasons intertwine together, they need to go hand in hand. I’m working on Autumn/Winter right now and I always think, ‘how does Spring/Summer move into this season?’ It’s not a completely different collection from each other this way, there is a cohesiveness to the brand and you can easily mix and match pieces no matter when they were created. .

What/where do you see the brand in the next five years? ten?

I want to see one staple piece in the whole world’s closet! No but really, it would be great to have the brand grow in – it would be unfair for me to say in one aspect – of course the dream is to have a larger reach and to eventually become a full lifestyle brand (apparel, accessories, shoes, home, stationary, etc). It’s why we wanted a name that wasn’t geographical or gender specific because I want the brand to grow so in the end we’re selling the Hensely story.

Most importantly how can we get our hands on these stunning pieces?!

– The pieces are selling in some boutiques in California and Miami, but most importantly we’ll be launching e-commerce in January 2016!




About the Author

Jillian Magenheim is the Editorial Director and Director of Partnerships for She is also a digital media consultant for various fashion and beauty brands. You can follow her thoughts on Twitter @Magenhaz and on Instagram @jillianrose_m