My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
Do I dare
Disturb the universe? – TS Eliot
Will you, the bride-to-be, appear in a canary yellow lehenga to your wedding mandap, and ditch the regular pre-wedding poolside sangeet for a Shivan and Narresh neoprene bikini saree? Will you opt for a navy blue tailored crop top and sharara, while the groom slips into a purple embellished achkan with those embroidered mojris from the latest Louboutin collection? The thought (or lack thereof) that goes into selecting an outfit for your big day is a short script to your life, who you want to be seen as as people, sometimes even your lives together as a couple — every little detail is deliberated over.
While weddings are never bereft of symbolism and sombre moments, the mood seems light and fun right now, and so do the clothes. None of that piety and prudery of the past — brides are opting for lighter, fuss-free outfits that let them shake a leg and actually enjoy their own wedding. Hairstyles are loose and carefree, and jewellery is one solid statement piece. Summer brides are opting for pastel, floral prints, while winter brides explore vegetable colours. Fashion, like any other creative industry, is a reflection of society and here are the dominant directions that bridal fashion styling has taken on this season, keeping in mind what the contemporary bride wants, without the burden of the past.
Gaurav Gupta’s finale during the Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015 stood out amidst numerous other fashion shows at the event for its new approach to silhouettes. His collection, called “Sculpt”, used Dune-like fabric to understand how clothes are used to create forms, and how they shape the body. The collection captured the beauty of movement with designs that could capture it. While it seemed avant garde, there is no denying the fact that silhouettes have become the dominant factor when it comes to couture. Bridal fashion is suitably influenced by designers, even though, as a traditional space, it may be slow on the uptake.
According to Varun Rana, Fashion Features Director of Harper’s Bazaar, there are several subtle changes that designers have opted for. “The bridal fashion industry is slow to change, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t evolved. Brides of today look nothing like brides from 10 years ago. Earlier, the grandeur of a bridal lehenga was evaluated according to its weight. The heavier your bridal lehenga, the richer you are. But, today, designers such as Abu Sandeep, Sabyasachi and Ritu Kumar, who do the traditional gota patti work, don’t have lehengas that weigh more than 6-8 kg, a very decent weight for a bridal lehenga.”
Pernia Qureshi, stylist and fashion designer, agreed that bridal lehengas have definitely become lighter. She added that, in retrospect, bridal wear has become edgier, and is now a perfect combination of craftsmanship and tradition. The attention to silhouettes has led to different kinds of bridal wear coming into focus. Classic voluminous skirts with crops, unconventional embroidery and minimalistic detailing defined the dominant trends this wedding season, according to designer Neeta Lulla. “Crop tops with shararas and flared pants, voluminous kurtas like the achkan kurta with cropped pants, dhotis with crop tops or asymmetric tops are styles popular with the brides.” Wedding attire is not a once-in-a-lifetime thing anymore. According to Lulla, people are opting for outfits that can be recycled for other occasions as well. “Apart from the wedding, this season’s [range] can be worn on occasions leading up to the big day, like the engagement, the sangeet, pre-parties and the reception as well,” said Lulla.
Colours are one of the biggest questions on a bride’s mind when she’s putting her wedding trousseau together. “I don’t think there is any country in the world that does colour better than us, both in its absolute raw form and in its juxtapositions of colours and patterns,” said Tarun Tahiliani. Tahiliani, whose couture collections, especially over the past five years, have concentrated on a lot of cream, grey and black tones, felt that bridal fashion was moving away from colour and bling to a more sophisticated palette of beiges and gold, with touches of red, and “pearlised” summer tones. He explained, “Black and cream are of course classics, and one can almost never go wrong with them, but, in our latest bridal collection, I have worked with an exciting, varied colour palette that includes renditions of gold, ivory, jade, red, cobalt, soft blush, powder blue and black.”
“The bridal fashion industry is slow to change, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t evolved. Brides of today look nothing like brides from 10 years ago. In earlier times, the grandeur of a bridal lehenga was evaluated according to its weight. The heavier your bridal lehenga, the richer you are. But, today, designers such as Abu Sandeep, Sabyasachi and Ritu Kumar, who do the traditional gota patti work, don’t have lehengas that weigh more than 6-8 kg, a very decent weight for a bridal lehenga.”
While black and white are still largely avoided unless it is a Christian wedding, brides are experimenting with pastel shades that work with western silhouettes. “These shades work with western skin tones, and that is why we saw them rise in the west. But now designers are experimenting with shades such as this powder pistachio green, duck egg blue, and designers are making it work,” said Varun Rana. Last season’s colours, such as ecru, silver grey, champagne and soft pinks, are still catching on in the mainstream. The season and body type plays a big part in choosing what colour and silhouette a bride is opting for in her wedding wardrobe. Ritu Kumar’s advice to new brides-to-be is to understand their figure and the style that will accentuate their look and not make them feel awkward. “The girl should pay close attention to the fit of the choli. Figure-hugging cholis designed in various shapes are characteristic of trendier bridal ensembles.
As far as colours are concerned, they should choose rich, bright colours, and ensure the odhni and choli are in contrast to each other to make the look more dramatic. For instance, it is common now to pair green with purple or pink. Pick a fabric that flows well — every individual is different. Embroidery should be exquisite; hand craftsmanship is an art that is dying out slowly and it is easy to get attracted to instant embroideries. However, these don’t last and, considering the bridal ensemble is always a long-term investment, it is best to go for real hand-embroidered stuff,” said Kumar. Ultimately, the colour of the outfit is a very personalised affair, and while broad trends dictate pastels and vegetable hues such as burgundy, bottle green and saffron, there is no compulsion a bride must feel towards them if she feels they don’t suit her skin tone.
Bridal outfits, especially the pre-wedding ones, have become much more experimental than before. Rana felt that while designs are not always taken off the ramp per se, fashion shows definitely influence the more adventurous brides. “Bridal outfits are expensive investments, and hence it is not feasible to just order them off the ramp like prêt. There are usually several meetings with the designers who can customise the lehenga depending upon the person. Again, there are several brides who are bold enough to go for something unusual.” Gaurav Gupta’s philosophy while experimenting, both from the designer as well as the bride’s end, is that it’s very important to understand body type well. The garments have to be designed keeping in mind that they need to flatter the bride’s body structure. As long as this is kept in check, experimentation will be a hit. “For instance, one of my gowns that Deepika Padukone wore from my Light Fall collection for the Happy New Year promotion was a particularly huge success. Experimentation works; you need to know how to use it to your advantage. Don’t go overboard while doing it; keep it subtle.”
Experimentation need not be limited to outfits, but can spill over to accessories as well. Neeta Lulla cites instances of zardosi art on the face with the help of bindis and zardosi henna on the hands along with glossy lips in high intensity colours for the experimental bride. Another common instance of breaking away from the mould is with jewellery. Gone are the days brides would perforce go for real jewellery. They no longer feel the need for fine jewellery, and often wear statement costume jewellery pieces from designers such as Outhouse and Amrapali. “Times are changing, and with the revolution in the Indian fashion scenario today, I would say change is the word. The youth of today is more mindful and equipped when it comes to fashion and they are much more experimental, which enables futuristic elements to be a big hit,” said Lulla. She suggested that brides should opt for jewellery as their first investment, since it is the most essential and expensive of all things that make up the bridal trousseau, and it’s wiser to work the wedding attire around the jewellery as opposed to working the jewellery around an attire. Outfits offer more options to play around with, while jewellery remains a constant.
Quirk defines bridal jewellery trends this season. When it comes to jewellery, less is the new more, according to Pernia Qureshi. “Women now prefer minimal pieces to make a stronger statement. You’ll also find brides breaking away from tradition, adorning a headpiece rather than wearing a traditional mang tikka. People are choosing lighter jewellery to go with a more elaborate attire and vice versa. No one likes to look like a walking jewellery shop anymore.” The combination of accessories depends a lot on the style chosen and the colours, but the elements have not changed over the years. Tikkas, jhumkas, bangles, chokers are all in vogue as are diamonds, so Ritu Kumar suggested a trial and error method appropriate for the outfit to find a combination that works best. Tahiliani said that brides should wear whatever reflected their personal style and not follow trends blindly. According to him, for a bride to look truly modern, it is important to know yourself well, and choose jewellery and accessories that reflect your personality. “If you truly believe in your emancipation, you should want to look like yourself during your wedding. That is the true spirit of being modern. Keep your make-up light, be yourself and you can go never go wrong with the classics.”