Behind every great woman, there’s another great woman.
While iconic fashion designer Vera Wang is a household name, you may be less familiar with Priya Shukla, who’s run global communications at Vera for over thirteen years.
She’s the behind-the-scenes leader for the brand, and her role runs a glamorous gamut, from organizing runway shows to leading partnerships with celebrities and overseeing the company’s philanthropic efforts. In short, she has her finger on the pulse of every side of the company.
Not surprisingly, she loves her job and her boss. “Vera is such a visionary," says Priya. "Her sense of teamwork and dedication to her craft inspires all of us, and it trickles down into all levels of the company. People here have such pride in what they do.”
The communications whiz is at the top of the industry pyramid, but she worked hard to get there, starting out at the company as an executive assistant before climbing the ladder to where she is now. But first she had to actually get to New York. Born and raised in Australia, Priya knew New York would be the best locus for a fashion career. Set on landing there, she began cold-calling fashion companies in the city, and finally convinced an Australian brand to meet with her. She admits it was a “stalker” approach, but that type of effort is also what’s brought her to where she is now.
An expert on building a brand’s identity, Priya has a strong sense of what defines her as a woman as well. She feels her Australian and Indian roots enrich her life in very different but special ways.
“I was born and raised in Sydney, and I’ve lived there my whole life ... I feel that I have a very strong sense of being Australian, but I’m also Indian, so I feel like the two have really shaped me. Australia is a very egalitarian society. Its spirit is about loyalty and equality, friendship and teamwork. Everyone is so friendly. But my family is very Indian, so I have those qualities ingrained in me as well -- in the way we celebrate, the way we emphasize family and hospitality. There’s a real pride to dressing up and togetherness. If you knew me, you’d know I’m a huge celebrator. I want to throw a party for every little thing, or a parade. A lot of that comes from my Indian side, and I’m always overdressed. I’d rather be overdressed than underdressed.”
Given how many times Priya has appeared in magazines and society pages for her chic style, her overdressed policy seems to be working (Coveteur describes her look as “straight up glamorous,” which has to be the ultimate compliment). But she’s also a mother of a young daughter, so she’s grown to accept that things can’t always be picture perfect. She describes the quest to be the perfect mother as a “myth right out of the gate.”
Her young daughter has also given her even more of a reason to reflect on her identity and how she can incorporate her Indian, Australian, and New York essence, along with her husband’s Lebanese roots, into her daughter's young life.
“The more we expose her to, the better it is for her. We like to eat our cuisines, we have very diverse palates, so we’ll take her to eat Indian food, she’ll have Lebanese food, and we like to celebrate Indian festivals where we can.”
Asked how she balances motherhood with models, Priya says: “I don’t think of myself as important enough to be a game-changer in any way. I’m just trying to get through the day, make sure my daughter is fed, and that there’s not a disaster!”
That kind of statement says a lot about how Priya conducts herself. However glamorous she may be, she’s still humble.
Photographer: Delphine Diallo. Stylist: Danny Morales. Hair: Naoko Suzuki. Makeup: Chi Chi Saito. Creative Director: Khirma Eliazov.