Meet Hema Bose, The Woman Behind Megan Thee Stallion’s Gaurav Gupta Outfit

Hema

Bridging the gap between Indian fashion and international red carpets—Hema Bose, founder of Maison Bose recently, a luxury communications consultancy, made a splash when she orchestrated a collaboration between Megan Thee Stallion and couturier Gaurav Gupta. The Savage singer walked the 2022 Oscar’s red carpet in his sculpted, crystal-encrusted creation— which took 1500 man-hours to make. While many saw the milestone and lauded the Indian designer for debuting his design on the Academy’s red carpet, only a few knew about the orchestrator behind the same. Within just a few months of launching her own company, Hema, who handles creative direction, VIP placement and brand elevation, has managed to build an expansive roster with names like Kelly Rowland, Carrie Underwood and Cardi B.

Before playing in the big leagues, Hema started her career by working with luxury designer Julien Mcdonald—where she slowly climbed the fashion corporate ladder and learnt the ropes of this business. Today, women from the Indian diaspora are not only claiming their space in the world of fashion, but they are also calling the shots. Whether it’s Chanel’s CEO, Leena Nair, LVMH prize winner Priya Ahluwalia or Maison Bose proprietor Hema Bose—South Asian women are finally filling in the important seats across the fashion industry and changing the narrative while they are at it. In a detailed conversation with ELLE, Hema talks about her journey of becoming a fashion insider and how it helped her in catapulting Indian talent globally.

ELLE: Fashion isn’t an easy industry to break into, how did you venture into this space?

Hema Bose: I started as an assistant at Julien Macdonald and worked closely with their CEO, who had been very encouraging of my work from the start. Gradually, I climbed the ladder to take on the position of Head of Global Communications and VIP Placements for the company; which was such a huge step for me. I was responsible for expanding the brand through red carpets, such as the Cannes Film Festival and Grammy Awards by collaborating with various top industry artists and their teams. It all comes down to strategy, from who do I approach to where the placement is likely to be effective whilst targeting the right segment of the audience—so there is a lot more than just PR and placements. I have to consider the brand’s identity that I am representing and find artists and collaborators who are aligned with the same ideals.

ELLE: Tell us about your journey in fashion and how did it all begin?

HB: The fashion industry and particularly womenswear has always been an ardent interest of mine, it is a huge part of my life and has influenced who I am today. When I turned 18 I moved to London to pursue my education in fashion design at London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, which led to many opportunities within the fashion industry. I feel that my education and intuition have forged my path to not only create effective strategies but to execute them successfully. Being exposed to different aspects of the fashion industry, whether it’s designing, trend forecasting, or placements—I approach each brand with diligence, care and a very open mindset. I’d like to think I have good intuition when it comes to understanding what the market requires and where it’s headed. I’ve assisted in product design and development, and also have experience in costume design. My years of experience and working with legendary designers like Alexander McQueen and couturiers like Julien Macdonald have given me a deep perspective and understanding of the industry.

ELLE: With Maison Bose, how do your further plan on expanding south Asian representation on global platforms?

HB: I’m honestly just so committed to building a strong platform to bring Indian couture and luxury brands to the global platform by showcasing them at Cannes, Oscars, Grammys, etc. I prefer to work with brands that have a story to tell—either through their rich heritage, the innovative techniques they use, or even a strong message they want to send out to society. One of our clients, Gaurav Gupta, creates one-of-a-kind couture gowns from sustainable materials, which is a huge factor in helping to save the environment. On the other hand, Jean Louis Sabaji infuses modern art and technology in his craftsmanship to create couture gowns that are intricately detailed and futuristic yet in keeping with the traditions of the couture heritage. I believe a brand’s vision and philosophy should have depth and meaning behind every product they put out.

ELLE: Tell us about the recent collaborations between designer Gaurav Gupta and music icons like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. How did that come about?

HB: We received a placement request through my longstanding friendship with their amazing stylists, which I am really grateful for. It is important to build a strong network in this industry or any industry for that matter—without it, growth is not possible. I had the opportunity to present the idea for a custom gown for both of these amazing ladies to my client, Gaurav Gupta, and it worked out miraculously. I remember reaching out to Cardi B’s stylist and introducing the brand Gaurav Gupta—we started visualizing a liquid gold goddess, with elements of air, in line with the theme of the music video and that is exactly what Gaurav Gupta and his team accomplished literally overnight. For Megan Thee Stallion, we wanted to create a blue, dreamy yet strong look. We hit the right note after getting on the best-dressed list for the Oscars red carpet in many international publications. There was a lot of strategic planning that occurred before approaching her stylist, and the coordination involved to make this happen—I feel very proud to have placed an Indian brand on the Oscars for a leading global sensational singer.

ELLE: Internationally, celebrity dressing and brand elevation is a highly competitive space to be in, how did you crack it? Despite being an outsider trying to make it into the industry?

HB: Yes, it is a highly competitive space, especially with new brands coming up with innovative designs. However, the key is to strategize, know your audience, know the celebrity’s style and connect with the right people. It comes with years of experience, networking, and the ability to multitask—for example maintaining brand relationships, managing events, etc. I generally like to collaborate organically; this helps in curating a strong foundation for a long-term relationship. This has and will always be my ultimate goal at MBC. However, there is much to say about adding incentives that can also help with the growth of a brand, especially in the mainstream market.

ELLE: What’s next in the pipeline for you and what’s on your vision board for Maison Bose

Hema Bose: There are a couple of exciting projects in the pipeline for us, as we are growing at a tremendous rate. We want to expand into all aspects of the luxury market including perfumery, fine jewellery, hotels, and others. We want to represent the best of the best and expand their presence worldwide. I am also on the panel of a fashion college that educates students on fashion sustainability, I want to spread awareness and inspire and motivate budding designers in India. This is just the beginning.

For more on South Asian representation, read here

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