RUNWAY FROM NEPAL TO NEWYORK - VARSHA THAPA

She drops her bag and dances in the streets whenever she hears a tune. She turns heads with her tall frame caressed by her flowing long hair wherever she walks. She talks at length about philosophy but has a child within whom she never fails to unleash. Meet Varsha Thapa, the most famous model from Nepal who made New York her home and world her ramp; as she talks fashion, freedom, liberty, modernity and diversity.

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OKOLOLA: We know you are a model but tell us what exactly does that mean for your everyday routine.

Varsha: Modeling is an amazing industry where you create an image for yourself and work with people who are deeply in touch with their artistic side which for me is a medium to combine my creativity with theirs, that being said the industry has its own downfalls. There's a lot of stress involved especially in terms of time. At any given point a model needs to travel, be in cities they’re not familiar with. Most of all, the schedules are very unpredictable therefore for me the best ways to keep myself energized and positive is by meditating everyday; I have a journal where I write down all my blessings, eat healthy and exercise. If I have work the next day, I go to bed pretty early around 10pm and get good rest because the next day would take a lot out of me. Planning is a tough thing to do when one is in this industry because everything (appointment, flights, even shoot dates sometimes) is very last minute but micro managing is key.

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As a child I always lived in my own fantasy world where I could be whoever I wanted to and fashion gave me a platform to do so!

OKOLOLA: What do you love about the fashion industry?

Varsha: I have always been an advocate of having a free mindset and fashion for me has been a place where I found free thinkers and artists who 'expressed' their opinions and creative ideas. It was always a place for me where freedom of acceptance actually came into play in comparison to the other industries. Being who you are is truly accepted and appreciated! As a child I always lived in my own fantasy world where I could be whoever I wanted to and fashion gave me a platform to do so! I love being on a shoot and transforming into different characters for those hours or even days if it went on. I was never only Varsha, I was many other people and I enjoyed being them.

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OKOLOLA: What's your personal style?

Varsha: I love the 70’s era because it was when the word freedom truly got its meaning! It was the era when Freedom had finally emerged! therefore every word that was spoken, every action that was taken, every clothing that was worn, screamed freedom! And I being a freedom lover can most relate to clothing from that era! Flared Pants, no bras, flower print blouses, tie & dye prints, colors and all of that with a touch of chicness.

OKOLOLA: If you have your way then what would you like to change about the fashion industry?

Varsha: I know this has already been said before but I’d love to see more diversity on the runways, editorials and campaigns. Even today I see models of color being used as a pop of color amongst majority of the caucasian models who walk the runway. We’re not an accessory or a pop of color in an all white palette as we women of diversity represent all women of diversity in the world therefore shows/editorials/campaigns must be held with a colorless approach. Also the size! There shouldn’t be a set size a model is expected to fit into. We’re all different, our bodies are different; therefore we should not be expected to fit a standard size of beauty.

OKOLOLA: Who are the people that inspire you?

Varsha: Confident people! No matter who it is! I get inspired by people who are fearless when it comes to expressing their ideas and thoughts. I am most gravitated to people who realize the value of 'one life' and the opportunities they have at hand and make the most of it without submitting to the societal norms. I'm inspired by people who fight for their rights, beliefs and who take actions towards fulfilling their dreams.

OKOLOLA: Choose one place- New York, London, New Delhi and Kathmandu? Why?

Varsha: I love all of them very much ! Every city has taught me valuable lessons and made me the person that I am today. New York has sharpened my rough edges, shown me what struggle really is and ways to come out of them. London has a very accepting/ revolutionary vibe- for instance, I recently shot an editorial for NR magazine in London where all the models were shot for who they truly are. I was captured for my belly dancing skills.  New Delhi is my second home, its where I spent my childhood understanding life, friendship, relationships. It is where I grew up, made mistakes and had fun. Kathmandu is home and my birthplace, it is where my mother lives whom I consider my biggest strength, it is where my roots are! It is from where my foundation was built so by nature everything that I am today was formed in KTM.

OKOLOLA: What do you think about OKOLOLA?

Varsha: I think OKOLOLA belongs to this generation! It is a portrayal of the correct way to live! It not only brings awareness to the thousands of its audiences about the true sense of being vegan but it also gives them a platform to start, which for majority of the people becomes a real issue. Most of them want to choose a life that supports no-cruelty but do not know how and where to begin! OKOLOLA for me is the starting point for a lot of potential vegans. In my opinion, it exists to make their lives easier.

I think OKOLOLA belongs to this generation!
Shagun Tomar