Last Saturday designer duo Ashima-Leena (sisters too) who complete 20 years in the Indian fashion threw an Awadhi themed private party in Delhi. Their charming co-hostess-Rhea Singh, the daughter of Leena- stood alongside in a black drape dress cinched by a slim gold belt and sandals. The two designer sisters wore a wispy, feminine shade of white - Leena a structured chiffon churidar kurta with silver frontal embellishment and Ashima a constructed sari of the same hue. Very nice ensembles.
One end of the terrace of the Connaught at Delhi's Oberoi (which offers one of the best views of Delhi) were digital images of a single arch from Red Fort. Outside it stood mannequins wearing princely couture. This was a precursor event for their flagship couture store set to open in DLF Emporio this month. “Our couture store is planned like a palace with a facade through which you can enter a princess's closet,” said Leena. Their guests cut acrosss socio-political categories: from cricket legend Kapil Dev and wife Romi, politician Jagdish Tytler to many people from the diplomatic community. Their peers --senior designers like Ritu Beri, JJ Valaya, Rina Dhaka, Ranna Gill, Hemant Sagar--turned up to raise a toast(see pix). A deep brown invite with classy blue lettering announcing this party had been sent earlier informing the guests that the cuisine would be from the kitchens of Awadh.
For years, Ashima-Leena have had Indian clients who live abroad who are crazy about their embellished couture. They also have a fat market in the Middle East where women spend multiple lakhs every year on bespoke wear from India: kaftans, tunics, dresses, long and short in silks, satins, lycras, chiffons and a variety of luxe fabrics. “We are because the Sheikhas wear and they have the best taste in the world when it comes to luxury,” is what Leena had casually said a couple of years ago. The remark has stayed in my mind. They showcase through exhibitions in sections of the US where there is a market for heavy Indian wear, and invest a lot in the Dubai ladies. Recenty, Leena has been talking to me about an indulgent wedding they did for an Indian family in Hongkong. “You won't believe the luxe quotient when I show you the pictures,” she says. Given the context and the history of their work, their couture store in India, will only add to the wedding shopping options in a big way.