Changing fashions are more often than not a very accurate mirror into changing societies and mind sets. India’s fashion evolution has always been constant against the backdrop of its ever-changing socio-economic landscape.
India’s people have donned various garbs with each new regime that governed the country.
Modern India is defined by sharp contrasts between antiquated traditions and uber modernity and Indian fashion designers are bridging the gap by letting their collective imaginations soar in the creation of pieces that are a seamless blend of indigenous skills with western silhouettes and styling. Kurtas thrown over jeans or redefined as linear shift dresses, lehengas with peplums and kick flares and sarees deconstructed to give way to saree-gowns or styled with fitted blazers and crisp white shirts.
The possibilities of self-expression that allow Indians to celebrate their innate ethnicity while tipping their hat to their new modernity are endless through a myriad of permutations and combinations. It’s hardly surprising then, that Indian bridal wear has also evolved to reflect the sentimentality of the Indian people.
The modern Indian bride embraces tradition but does not conform herself to the idea of how a traditional bride must look and behave on her big day. This in itself comes from the change in attitude towards marriages that are fixed with the consent of the bride rather than enforced upon her as the only resort to financial and social stability. Today’s Indian bride wants to partake in the celebrations, dance the night away and enjoy her moment to shine rather than sit coyly in the background bogged down by a bridal ensemble that weighs more than her.
‘Up-cycling’ is the latest buzzword for brides who want to take their mom’s traditional bridal lehenga-choli and reinvent it as something that embodies their own personal style. The latest Indian bridal looks are very international in their appeal while being Indian in their aesthetic. The ensembles are versatile, functional, comfortable and glamorous. And while there is a very strong move away from over-the-top bling and embellishment, there are still some brides who love elegant excess that exudes opulence and grandeur. Proving that modern Indian bridal trends have broken their cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all moulds and transformed to allow for fluid and uncomplicated fashions.
The ubiquitous bridal lehenga that was traditionally always red or maroon and heavily embroidered has evolved into several modern versions.
Shyamal & Bhumika have reinterpreted the traditional garment with Chantilly lace embroidered flared lehengas paired with bikini style blouses and simple dupattas as well as tulle and net gowns. Both versions are reminiscent of ball gowns that are an ever-popular style for brides in the west but remain intrinsically Indian through their fabrics and embellishments.
Grand maestros of Indian fashion Tarun Tahiliani as well as Abu Jaani and Sandeep Khosla have created a version of the old favourite lehenga with an anarkali jacket over the top. Dubbed as Jacket Lehengas both designers have taken extreme opposite routes with the ensemble. Tahiliani’s version favours his love for pristine white on white for a soft and subdued modern bridal look while Jaani Khosla’s version with a multicoloured embroidered black jacket screams glamazon. Meanwhile the label Anaikka gets edgy by pairing a quilted high-waisted flared lehenga with a mirror embellished crop top.
The unstitched six yard wonder - The Saree has evolved like none other over the past few decades. Traditionally available primarily in silk, brocade and cotton, the new age saree comes in lycra, muslin and even denim. These versions of the saree that are amongst the latest Indian bridal looks reflect the idea of drawing parallels between traditional wear and contemporary thinking much like the brides themselves. The pan-national garment and its role in current visual trends endorsed by numerous celebrities from all walks of life has Indian fashion designers pushing the boundaries in creating more contemporary versions of it. With its innovative weaves, unconventional prints and feel of heritage luxury, the saree has transcended the ages to become every designer’s muse and every modern Indian woman’s love.
Sanjay Garg’s handwoven fabrics are converted into bright metallic woven sarees in colours that range from mellow to dramatic for the Indian bride who enjoys traditional weaves and contemporary styling.
Gaurav Gupta’s structured tailored mould of sarees or saree gowns is completely modern and for the bride who doesn’t want the bother of cumbersome drapes and pleats coming undone.
Arjun Saluja’s minimalist touch sarees that are absolutely devoid of decoration save their utterly luscious detailed weaving in subdued and earthy colours would be ideal for the simple bride who would rather let her personality than her clothes make a statement.