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JJ Valaya: My tryst with trousseau

?One should always go for a perfect blend of comfort and style and create your statement...for unlike the west, Indian weddings are never just an hour-long affair.?

india Updated: Jan 20, 2003 17:25 IST
JJ Valaya

When I stepped into fashion in the late 80's, I had absolutely no idea which direction my designing life or for that matter my life would take.

Fashion as a business proposition was practically non-existent but what was quite evident (and exciting) was the fact that I was at the threshold of a brand new experience… I would actually get the opportunity to tread on uncharted territory and probably make my own set of rules!

I was right, for post NIFT, the real world had unique experiences in store, success and rejection, learning from one's mistakes and discovering new market opportunities, all were to be elements that would result in a constant evolution of the Indian fashion industry.

Somewhat early in my new world, I discovered my true passion, my love for colour, fabric and surface ornamentation, in particular, embroideries. The amazing lives of royal India as well as the works of early 20th century couturiers in the west were increasingly fascinating me.

I realized that couture was what I would start my career with. Couture, by virtue of being painstakingly detailed would obviously be expensive and it did not take long for me to realize that couture in India was to be interpreted as Trousseau for the great Indian wedding. This perhaps could sustain and accept Indian high fashion.

India is fundamentally a land of celebration and ceremonies. At a particular time of the year, it comes alive with festivals and weddings, which, more often than not, means a lot of occasions to experiment with traditional finery.

I have seen trends in weddings change in the last 10-12 years, but one ingredient that hasn't changed is that fundamental bit of tradition, which everyone wants in their marriage outfits.

One may be a worshipper of clean, minimal lines in routine existence but never ever group your own wedding under the same category. This is the one day that you have to look and feel like a princess, special and traditional.

Leaner, fitted silhouettes
Having said that, there are a few things, natural to evolution, which have changed in the past couple of years. The leaner, fitted look is widely prevalent, so I would advise a slimmer, slicker lehnga for the bride.

Voluminous gathers and huge 'gheras' are passé. Diaphanous or sheer fabrics are in. You could settle on a variety of interesting fabrics such as Dupion, Jacquard, Tanchoi, net and organza. Blouses are sexier and back details are increasingly becoming bolder.

Unusual colour blends
At one point of time, to think of pastels for a trousseau was totally non acceptable, but times have changed with the new generation setting rules of its own.

The focus is on unusual colour blends, (for some people I've made entire trousseaus in lavender, midnight blue, aubergine and turquoise).
Red and its immediate family remain a perennial favourite and a statement maker. What also works very well are metallic silks and oxidized embroideries with unusual blends.

Flaunt Swarovski
Shimmer is the order of the day! Crystal today plays an integral part of bridal dressingso it is perfectly acceptable to flaunt Swarovski and shine like a star.

Words of caution though…never overdo shimmer; the idea is to use it to enhance the entire look, not to get overshadowed by it.

Tread carefully for there is a very fine line between sophistication and outright flashy. Another trend these days is that of two stoles - a heavier one to drape effectively and a lighter, less cumbersome one to cover the head with.

Traditional looks for men
With such dramatic changes happening in the Indian woman's wedding wardrobe, men too have undergone an entire metamorphosis as far as dressing for weddings is concerned.

I recall how at one time, the only accepted norm was the 3-piece suit. In fact, if someone did experiment and tried a kurta churidar, he was almost ridiculed and made fun of.

Today however is a different story. Achkans or Sherwanis are fast replacing suits as the accepted look for the main day.

As a matter of fact, an increasing number of stylish males are now also adopting the traditional look as an effective option for semi-formal and formal dressing as well.

Contrary to a pre-fixed mindset of a lot of Indian males, traditional dressing can be extremely stylish and can speak volumes about an individual's personality.

After the Sherwani, The most accepted, and undoubtedly, the most comfortable garment would have to be the 'Kurta'.

Slim cuts and stylised footwear
Depending on which part of the country one is from, this is teamed with either an 'Aligarhipajama', 'Dhoti' or what I consider its perfect companion - 'the churidarpajama' as a lower.

In addition, adding a 'Choga' (a deconstructed coat) or drape/shawl adds a lot of substance to the entire 'look'. The present fashion scenario sees the kurta in its leaner, slimmeravatar with interesting accessories such as stylised footwear, cufflinks and buttons etc. thrown in to add interest.

Men too can flaunt colour
Though the basic colour palette for the groom still remains the good, old neutral shades - beiges, taupe, ivories and gold, today, it is perfectly acceptable for a man to flaunt colour.

However, it is integral to cleverly blend it with some masculine shades to achieve the right look. After all, in earlier days, the maharajas used to dress up in very ornate clothing and still manage to look as macho and authoritative.

Emphases on accessories
A vital aspect (and often ignored) of effective presence at a wedding is accessories. Whether it's that perfect pair of mojhris or that set of antique buttons.

Interesting drapes - custom developed or passed down generations or that string of aged emeralds or that stunning piece forturbans…never ever ignore these details. The crucial turban or 'saafa' should always be individually draped and coordinated with the outfit.

Amidst all the celebration and grandeur, a basic fact for the trousseau still remains… that one should always go for a perfect blend of comfort and style.

Create your statement, but always wear that, which is comfortable as well as pleasing to the eye for unlike the west, Indian weddings are never just an hour-long affair.

First Published: Jan 20, 2003 17:00 IST