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Marry the gown first

Sanjana Ratnam's New-York based label No Ordinary Bride, known for its bridal and evening wear, will be showcased at the Trousseau Week taking place in the city from September 28

It's no mean feat for an Indian designer to have a high end pret store in Beverly Hills. And especially when the store has everyone from Mariah Carey and Julia Roberts to Arnold Schwarzeneger dropping by.

Bangalore girl Sanjana Ratnam can certainly take a bow. Yet, back home, barely anyone has heard of her bridal and evening wear label, No Ordinary Bride. And that's because Sanjana has never attempted to operate out of India.


The bridal gowns by Sanjana Ratnam



This is her second show in Bangalore. The FIT(Fashion Institute of Technology), New York alumnus will show beautifully tailored French couture dresses, high fashion bridal wear with a perfect fit at the show. The resort line, on the other hand, will have jewel-toned full length gowns that are less formal, less structured.

The label does impeccable finishing and has won critical appreciation at the New York Bridal Fashion Week.
 
Says Sanjana, "We are known for our embroideries with laces. The bridal collection is completely white as America is a conservative market, unlike Europe, where  women wear even bright red gowns for their weddings.

In the US, it's either white, ivory or champagne and sometimes a rum pink. But most women like to look like a virgin in white even if one is eight months pregnant on the wedding day," quips Sanjana.

While most designers test the waters in India before venturing outside, Sanjana's focused on the global market right from the beginning and doesn't want to enter the crowded ethnic bridal wear market.
 
"Every girl in India wants to wear a Rohit Bal and Ritu Kumar. I don't want to be in the space," explains Sanjana.

Even in the US, she caters to a niche clientele. "Less than US $ 1500 is a very crowded place. We fall under the couture bracket as our dresses retail from US $ 30,000," she states.

But doesn't every American girl want to get married in a Wera Vang dress, much like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, the movie? "If you have US $ 12000 to spend, why not?" she asks.

Sanjana does admit that the showstopper gown for her show will be something like what  Bradshaw wears for the cover of Vogue in the film.



The trend is veering towards three dimensional textures globally, she insists. "There was a point when it was all about tucking and pleating. Not any more.
 
Besides, destination gowns are in. A lot of people get married on the beach or in a palace. So, we do the gowns accordingly. Some even get married in gardens and it's always chiffons and georgettes for them," she reveals.

Dubbing the US as a more evolved, sophisticated market, Sanjana says, "There, it's basically about the gown, the engagement ring and the cake. Parents don't buy their children 25 outfits, jewellery sets and furniture for the wedding."

But things are changing in India too, she says. "Every day I get a call from a bride in Kerala asking me to make her a gown.

In the Hindu weddings, women have  started wearing gowns for sangeet and cocktail parties. And it makes sense. How many times would you get a chance to wear a full blown gown? It's part of the 'princess for a day' feeling. Besides a gown gives you a beautiful silhouette," she maintains.

Back from a trunk show in Goa, Sanjana will look at retailing in Bangalore in the future.
For now, the brides-to-be in the city will have to be happy with the handy tips that she shares for their big day.

Here's the checklist for your D-Day
The most important thing to remember is that you need to be comfortable in what you are wearing. There's no point in wearing a strapless gown and pulling it all through the ceremony. All eyes are on you on the wedding day, so ensure you can carry off whatever you wear. You have to be at peace.

Be realistic. If you think you will lose 10 kilos before the wedding, it won't happen. So choose a dress according to your body type and one that is cleverly constructed. It's all in the construction. For instance, we have a built-in corset and trains for most of our gowns that flatter every body type. Take people you trust when you go for trials. They should be honest with you.

Don't wear too much jewellery; that will take attention away from your dress. It should be all about the gown.

Buy a gown according to the footwear you choose. Although we don't custom make gowns, I don't finish a dress till I see the girl's footwear. I need to ensure she doesn't trip on her gown. Choosing the innerwear before the gown is also a good idea. 

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