The wedding season is here and trousseau shopping is on at full swing. Some brides-to-be are rummaging not in shop racks but in their moms’ closets for the perfect dress. A lot of designers are receiving requests from such brides to revamp their mother’s antique sari or lehenga for their big day.
Parsimony is not the reason — actress Raveena Tandon got one such dress made by Manav Gangwani. It has more to do with the emotional value of one’s mother’s wedding garment. Designer Anjana Bhargav, who gets requests every season, explains the technique: “The sari has to be strengthened. I use the same fabric, but I line it and do some embroidery to hold the fabric with the lining. I give it a kali in the centre, sequin it or give a nice brocade border.”
Top designer Ritu Kumar, who recently celebrated four decades in the business, takes pride in the fact that her clients come to her with lehengas she herself did 40 years ago and ask her to revamp them for their daughters’ weddings. “The kind of intricate work that used to be done back then is not being done now,” says Kumar.
“I maintain the classic quality, repair the metal embellishments, line it and basically make it look fresh.” Sangeeta Dave, a resident of Mayur Vihar whose daughter Richa will marry in November, has revived her saas’s sari with a real silver border. “We got it recut and freshened. She will wear it at her mehendi,” says Dave.
For some designers, working on these clothes is an absolute delight and a challenge, too. Puja Nayyar loves doing this because it gives her a chance to work on the most beautiful works of art, sometimes from royalty. “People bring odhnis worn by their great-grandmothers.” These costumes, she adds, have to be “treated like babies”. Designer Anjalee Kapoor tells us, “People generally don’t want the entire [old] garment, but aspects of it incorporated in their lehenga — mostly the border — and revamping the blouse.”
Not all designers are open to this idea. Designer Manju Grover makes exceptions only for special clients. “This leaves little scope for creativity,” she says. “An old fabric may even disintegrate, and I don’t want the blame for losing someone’s heirloom.” Raveena, who got her mother’s wedding lehenga with real gold wires reconstructed for her 2004 wedding, has the last word: “I did it so that my mother’s good luck with a good marriage stays with me.”