India has been through a sea-change of sorts for the better part of the last decade. Nowhere is this society in transition more visible than in our good ole fashion business. Mega malls, international high street retailers, luxury labels, credit banking, working out of the nearest Starbucks — but especially the Indian bride.
Since almost all of Indian fashion's bonanza is the result of our super-rich wedding market, what the bride wants to wear is a perfect pointer to the times we live in. Ritu Kumar's brides were trad-loving simpering coquettes. Today, the bridal trousseau market is an overcrowded bazaar. The wedding lehenga is your ticket to a Delhi farmhouse or a Mumbai penthouse.
Gupta, a graduate from the avant-garde Central St Martin's College, London, has brought much of the British underground-style to Indian fashion. He debuted in 2006 with a collection of ruched sarees that are now considered iconic. Gupta's cocktail sarees were drapes of metallic georgette crimped and decorated only at the shoulder with three-dimensional metal and leather embroidery. Despite its ubiquity, it became the new must-have in every trousseau.
The modern Indian bride has been owned by Tarun Tahiliani and, in a supporting role, by Anamika Khanna. Both are genius innovators — Tahiliani with his Grecian draped sarees and Khanna with turning the dhoti into a woman's garment. But their respective styles have an inherent classicism about them. Gupta's modernism is more radical. His aesthetic is entirely of his own making. The new and edgy dulhan is muse to others too: Kanika Saluja's punk bride, Manish Arora's kitsch queen. But Gupta's entire story is devoted to this chapter of the country's current cultural mood.