Her name became synonymous with Bollywood when Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit danced in her costumes in the trend-setting Devdas. Now celebrating her 25th year of designing wedding garments for brides-to-be, Neeta Lulla recalls the variety of Bollywood beauties she’s dressed on their big day.
"Jewellery designer Varuna Jani was my first big client, though at that time she hadn’t started her business yet," Lulla recalls. "After that, my first tryst with Bollywood happened when I designed for the actor Sapna, who was very popular down South and in Bollywood at the time."
She recalls Salma Agha and Sridevi as being her next two assignments, and laughs about how she’s forgotten what she created for them. "Back then, weddings were done quietly. Even Juhi’s (Chawla) wedding was a quiet affair. But when I designed for Aishwarya Rai’s wedding to Abhishek Bachchan, that’s when it became a huge media event."
Lulla created Rai’s pearl-encrusted lehenga for her mehendi ceremony and another garment for her South Indian wedding ceremony. "I’ve known Aishwarya for so many years that it was an easy task. I don’t think she gave any creative input apart from discussing the colour."
But Lulla admits that the wedding that drew her maximum attention was an unlikely one. "Rakhi Sawant’s wedding was huge," she laughs. "I never imagined I’d be dressing her on her wedding day. I was very clear about what I wanted - emphasise her assets and downplay everything else. I wanted to give her a clean, elegant look."
Lulla says, Brides come to me saying ‘You’ve designed for Devdas, there’s nothing I need to tell you.’ They are willing to trust me completely.”
Neeta Lulla has designed for Shilpa Shetty, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sridevi, Sapna, Salma Azad, Eesha Koppikar and Juhi Chawla.
She mentions that watching Aishwarya Rai Bachchan getting married was an emotional moment for her. “I get very involved in each and every wedding that I design for, right from the jewellery to the accessories. And since I’ve known Aishwarya for so long, hers was especially sentimental for me.”
Lulla also designed for Dimpy Ganguly, Rahul Mahajan’s young bride, courtesy reality TV show Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega.