The desi bandhgala is getting a makeover that’s tranforming it into an international style statement, says Arundhati Basu
It’s a wardrobe must have for every man. A sharply cut bandhgala that’s the epitome of sartorial arrogance is clearly the flavour of the season. Men, you can look beyond the classic high-necked jacket as just an option for a formal evening out. Now you can pick from an array of styles that allow you to wear the bandhgala casually or to make a sporty statement. And the best bit is that you can avail of bandhgalas for both winter (for those who travel often to cold climes) and summer — and in a wide range of fabrics.
If the bandhgala’s become a rage internationally, it has much to do with Giorgio Armani showing it on the ramps while Canali presented it two seasons ago in its Nawab collection. Italian menswear label, Ermengildo Zegna, too boasts of its wait-listed, bandhgala-inspired Guru Jacket.
For designer Arjun Khanna, bandhgalas stand for Indianness. “They work whether for black-tie events or casual dos and stand for the perfect Indian style statement.”
With various designers presenting their own takes on it, the classic silhouette of the bandhgala’s making a statement on the red carpet, affirms designer Rahul Khanna of the fashion label Cue. Khanna with design partner Rohit Gandhi has introduced seven versions of the bandhgala. “We’ve played with the collar, buttons, flaps, seam details and added brocade piping or satin detailings on matte fabrics,” adds Khanna.
For hot summers, Cue offers linen-crepe bandhgalas (starting at Rs 15,000) in blacks and greys and funky washed-denim bandhgala jackets. Their winter line boasts of silk blends, velvets, Italian high-twisted wool that’s wrinkle-free and textured wool.
Ace menswear designer, Raghavendra Rathore, is fashioning shirts styled like bandhgalas for the upcoming summer. They’re a cross between the Chinese Mao jacket (with long, close-fitting cut and narrow mandarin collars) and the classic bandhgala. “Wear them in the peak of summer and you’re covered for the evening. They give you an artsy look,” says Rathore who focuses to revive handloom bandhgalas.
His bandhgalas (price on request) in linens, jerseys and cottons for summer are non-structured. Expect a palette of cool, neutral colours — white, brown, khaki, olive and vanilla. In his resort collection, Rathore has heavier options in velvets and corduroys.
Take a look at Rajesh Pratap Singh’s collection that offers reversible and vegetable-dyed/indigo-dyed linen bandhgalas. “Our range goes from very casual daywear to a very formal evening line. The jackets come in denim and linen to fine counts of wool,” says Singh.
Interestingly, designer Narendra Kumar, known for his tailored collections, has brocade bandhgalas with buttons styled like cufflinks. His adaptation for summer is the five-button bandhgala. Kumar has dabbled in ornamental buttons for his jackets with metallic, enamelled and embroidered buttons. The bandhgalas, which are available in classic blacks and a startling orange, range between Rs 25,000-40,000.
Also check out Arjun Khanna’s Dandy collection in his Mumbai studio. Says Khanna of this strongly Victorian collection: “It has a heavy touch of Sherlock Holmes and also focuses on detail and finish.” His jackets (Rs 25,000 and upwards) come in a dark palette of chocolate, mocha, charcoal, midnight blue, black and muted shades of rust. His fabrics are linen and cotton for summer and lightweight wool, crepe wool, velvet and leather for winter. Look out for his elaborate brocade pieces.
For an easy-on-the-eye look, go for a Zubair Kirmani jacket. He fashions his bandhgalas out of self-textured linen silks and satin silks. While the regular jackets are in neutral colours like beige, black and ivory, Kirmani’s achhkan-style jackets comes in an array of colours — black, navy blue, chocolate brown and olive. The self-textured bandhgala jackets are priced upwards of Rs 18,000.
If you’re fine with shelling a few thousands more, there’s the Canali Nawab collection offering the classic black Nawab suit in fine mohair wool and a royal blue Nawab Jacket in velvet. Canali promises impeccably stitched jackets that start at Rs 64,000.
“It was a hotseller when we launched it as an India-special product in our Autumn/Winter 2009 line. We’ll also launch a grey Nawab suit by the end of February,” says Roasie Ahluwalia, general manager, marketing and communications, Genesis Luxury Fashion that represents Canali in India.
But designers say it’s imperative that you know how to wear the bandhgala. Rathore’s tip is to wear custom-made bandhgalas with breeches, a waistcoat, a pocket square (folded handkerchief for the breast pocket) and a pair of Peshawari sandals.
“As for a teenager look — team a cotton bandhgala with khakis/cargos/jeans and carry a cocoa coloured duffle bag to complete the look,” says Rathore.
Kumar adds: “For a formal polo event or weddings, team it with an ornate shirt while to keep it casual, wear a soft linen jacket with T-shirt and jeans.”