Great things are happening to ethnic bridal wear. Gone are the gathered umbrella ghagras and cholis and in their place a new fusion look for wedding wear has emerged. There is a touch of adventurous designing with couturiers going for the impossible at times. Vikram Phadnis adds dollops of glitter onto slim lean long skirts and teams them with figure hugging long sleeve blouses. Tarun Tahiliani feels that drapes should be the centre of all bridal wear so he fuses a sari with a lehenga. His sensational look for new bride, Shilpa Shetty was dazzling for her pheras as well as the reception where the diva glittered in a golden sari gown.
Pallavi Jaikishan’s pre-stitched lehenga sari is a hot seller, while Manish Malhotra adds a long knee length slit sherwani to a lehenga. Manav Gangwani who has dressed many Bollywood brides like Ravenna Tandon prefers to be so opulent with his glitter and glitz that the lehengas almost resemble Victorian gowns and weigh several kilos. Varun Bahl’s bridal look doesn’t feature paisley embroidery this season but has giant Japanese cranes or cherry blossoms that embellish the lehengas. He even adds on kimono style blouses to match the theme.
Embroidery for bridal outfits is inspired by themes that are as diverse as cherry blossoms, Persian carpets, the Padshanama, rose or just 6500 crystals. The colour palette too has taken a new path. While the traditional red and fuchsia are still popular there are shades of brown, beige, pink, blue, emerald green, wine, maroon and rust that brides love.
When it comes to fabrics the choice is not limited to silk but tulle or net is making big news while velvet is a hot favourite. Sabyasachi’s velvet, silk, ikat block printed and embroidered lehengas which are a mix of fabrics, patterns and embroidery are sellouts at stores. Even his long swirling kalidar angarkhas in a mix of many shades, textures and designs are buyers’ favourites.
The sari, the most important bridal option is now restricted to the mother or in-laws. While they are richly embellished and often with several fabric blends; the heritage heirloom saris like the Benares brocades, Kanjivaram, Paithani, Patan Patola are considered old fashion and passé. It’s designer saris with their tiny heavily ornate blouses that are the first option. What has really innovated as far as design is concerned is the choli whether for a lehenga which has figure hugging, kalidar, fish tail, mermaid silhouettes or a sari.
It is beautifully crafted with embellishments that are strategically placed to highlight the shape and silhouette of the garments. The sleeves of the cholis move from cap to short, three quarter or long in sheer or opaque fabrics. The pattern is either very brief like a bikini top or at midriff, hip length or even all the way down to the knee or ankles and resembles a lush coat. The very daring brides go for corsets, bustiers or halter tops. The neckline is the most important part of the choli. It could be off-the-shoulder or willpower for a very sexy look or just square, round, V or plunge neckline, while the rear interest is as important with the tie-up or low back.
Bridal wear in the 21st century is almost international in look and feel and is now coveted by many western fashion followers.