Indian wedding wear is changing. Brides and grooms know their mind and won’t settle for anything less than spectacular. Designers Manish Malhotra, JJ Valaya, Falguni&Shane and Raghavendra Rathore tell us how.
How are the trends changing?
Valaya: Till a few years ago, the heavier the outfit, the more the embroidery and embellishment, the heavier the fabric, the more exquisite and expensive it was considered to be. Today, whilst the look and feel has to be heavy, there is an equal focus on cut and style. Modern designs involve new fabrics and a degree of experimentation in hybrid cuts and colours.
Malhotra: Brides and grooms are open to experimentation, now more than ever. I recently gave a bride a royal blue lehenga for her engagement; a bride in Jaipur wants Western-influenced clothes for her reception. They are open to not-so-traditional shades and modern silhouettes – clothes with pops of colour, interesting fits and cuts. People are adopting and adapting styles from films. They are extremely individualistic, and they want something that will make them stand out. They don’t just want to copy designs.
Rathore: They are looking for elegant, sophisticated, extremely well-crafted garments that reflect international trends, yet are rooted in tradition. The surfaces are subtler and less embellished. There’s experimentation in textiles. Classic colours like black, white and ecru have crept into the palette. The silhouettes are moving towards global trends.
Falguni: Tastes are changing. Everyone wants to experiment. We constantly have clients telling us they don’t want the typical traditional look for their wedding. Today you will see brides in different versions of the traditional outfit – lehenga gowns or pre-stitched or dhoti saris. The men are breaking away from the typical sherwani.
So what remains the most popular look for the bridal couple?
Valaya: For the main wedding day, undoubtedly, the lehenga for the bride and the sherwani for the groom. Other events nowadays involve a medley of concepts.
Men are actually the true peacocks! Newer styles and an evolved appropriation of tradition has resulted in some fantastic looking Indian grooms recently. Having said that, they also need to be careful that they don’t get carried away by excess. Elegance comes first and must never be compromised. Indian men look great in Indian clothes. If you’re fit, it opens up a sea of options in silhouettes: pyjamas, flared kurtas, full-bodied designs. If not, go for the basic cuts in sherwanis, kurtas and bandhgalas.
Malhotra: I like old-world clothes. That’s why I gave actors Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra a traditional Punjabi salwar-kurta, and pyjama kurta in Student Of The Year. These have become huge hits with men, who wanted a change. Films are making these trends more accessible.
Rathore: Choose from a variety of bottoms: breeches, trousers or a Pathani, Patiala or Pakistani salwar, churidar or dhoti. Team them with bandhgala jackets, achkans, and waistcoats over your kurta or shirt. The big colours for men are jewel tones, plum, purple and burgundy.
And women clearly don’t want to be left behind…
Valaya: There are a lot of options. Cuts for lehengas are getting sexier, using unique materials and details. Saris are being worn dhoti-style, with long jackets, over strappy blouses. We’re seeing a sprinkling of Indian-western hybrid gowns (some of which I love; some I abhor), fine embroidery and creating volume with sheer fabrics. There has to be a sense of drama and a definitive stamp of exquisiteness.
Rathore: Women have so much to choose from! Saris, suits, Indo-western tunics with churidars, gowns, dresses, jacket-inspired styles, lehengas, separates combined with dupattas...
Falguni: Brides want their outfits to look larger than life, hence the whole craze of layers and flowy garments.
But women can wear something different at the reception, right?
Valaya: Of course! Most brides are leaning towards trendier versions of traditional clothes, gowns and floor-length jackets.
Rathore: Anarkali kurtas with churidars are still in. As are straight kurtas worn with shararas or voluminous salwars.
So many designers are showing whites, creams and blacks. Are brides really wearing these colours?
Falguni: Clothes showcased on the ramp are definitely more dramatic and exaggerated. They are always modified for retail. We showcased a black wedding gown as our showstopper at bridal week recently. A bride may not want one, but they are going in for shades like blue, green and other neon tints.
Valaya: While Indian bridal outfits are dominated by shades of red, there is a move towards hues like champagne, metallics, nudes and deeper jewel tones. Some women avoid cream and black but there are a few who are breaking the rules.
But the lehenga is the staple...
Rathore: It is more of a trend than a staple, courtesy the lovely young ladies ruling Bollywood.
Falguni: It’s still the most popular wedding outfit, even as brides attempt different versions of it.
Malhotra: I accept the blame for making lehengas a Bollywood movie staple. And the trickle down effect that followed!
Are we ushering an age of the Indian bridal gown?
Falguni: Wedding gowns have Western influences with traditional interpretations. They are extremely comfortable compared to heavy saris and lehengas. They can be worn to cocktails, formal dinners and wedding functions as well.
Valaya: A beautiful well-cut gown on a well-shaped body is a visual treat. But sadly, I often see strange and distasteful versions of an otherwise beautiful silhouette, ruined further by being worn by bodies which are simply not meant for gowns. My advice to designers: stick to what you do best. And to the wearers: be true to yourself and your body!
Malhotra: I am being asked repeatedly to make gowns, but I refuse. If I were to ever do it, I would make it very Indian.
Rathore: Wear a gown only if you can pull it off with confidence.
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From HT Brunch, November 17
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