The humble lehenga-choli gets a quirky makeover

  • Ruchika Kher, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Aug 12, 2015 09:27 IST
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla present an edgy look with a high-waist lehenga and top (L); Falguni and Shane Peacock mix a bolero with a lehenga (C); Varun Bahl creates a chic version with a blazer (R).

Have you ever considered wearing a lehenga with canvas shoes? Or has the thought of pulling off a jacket in place of a traditional blouse crossed your mind? If not, then now might be a good time to consider these whacky options.

While the combination of the lehenga and choli is a classic one when it comes to Indian gatherings, designers are increasingly twisting the concept to give the traditional ensemble a new-age touch. You can now shimmy into the night in a glitzy tube top, paired with a lehenga, or make a chic statement in a bolero along with the lehenga skirt, among many other rule-breaking options.

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For instance, designer Monisha Jaisingh recently paired a conventional red and grey lehenga with a tank top and shoes for a fashion show. Explaining what prompted this trend, she says, "People are tired of completely traditional looks. They want to keep their choices modern with only hints of tradition."

Monisha Jaisingh pairs a tank top and canvas shoes with a lehenga; Aishwarya Rai Bachchan pulls off a shrug with a lehenga as part of this Manish Malhotra ensemble; Sabyasachi picks a peplum top instead of a blouse.

Jaisingh is not the only one who believes so. Several Indian designers including Manish Malhotra, Gaurav Gupta, Krishna Mehta, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, among others, are giving the lehenga-choli a makeover in their signature styles.

Designer Rahul Mishra had models walk the ramp in lehengas combined with biker jackets and capes at a recent show. He says these simple modifications have helped increase the functionality of the outfit to a great extent. "And I think functionality plays a very important role nowadays. Experimentation is the need of the hour. This is not just a result of western influences," he says.

Mishra adds, "Brides always want to look their best on their weddings. As a result, they invest heavily in their bridal outfits. However, many women have started realising that while they spend so much on a lehenga, it somehow only ends up being worn once."

Instead of a regular blouse, Rahul Mishra matches a jacket and an organza cape with these lehengas (L and C); for a bold look, Krishna Mehta designed a shimmery tube top with a lehenga (R).

Mishra feels that in such a situation, sometimes, tweaking things can come to the rescue. Adding casual elements to a lehenga can help make it look slightly less formal, and ideal for other functions as well, thus increasing the garment's usability.

Worth a shot
But will Indian women ever open up to the idea of experimenting with the traditional lehenga and choli? Most designers are optimistic. "The modern Indian bride is discerning of her sartorial choices. It shouldn't be long before they (Indian brides) comfortably sport such designs," says designer Rimple Narula, who works with her partner Harpreet Narula.

Jaisingh echoes a similar stance, saying, "Today's fashion industry is redefining luxury for women. People now opt for an array of contemporary and edgy designs, which are hassle-free, yet eye-catching and exclusive."

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