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Wedding gowns are the new favourites for Indian brides

Designers can't ignore it, and suburban retailers are stocking it; everyone wants to wear a wedding gown

For 27-year-old Priyal Thosani, who works in a social media team for a website, sourcing an outfit that wouldn't be too cumbersome for her wedding reception while greeting hundreds of guests led her to opt for a gown.

Tarun Tahiliani
Tarun Tahiliani

"One of the reasons was to get rid of all the draping that is needed for a sari or ghaghra choli. They are heavy (weight wise) and you need to stand in it for hours together. Also, it looks different when compared to saris and lehengas, which we wear for other functions," explains Thosani.

Like her, many Indian brides today are opting for gowns for their wedding festivities, such that everyone from local suburban retailers to couture designers are stocking them in abundance.

Model Archana Kumar in a Tarun Tahiliani gown
Model Archana Kumar in a Tarun Tahiliani gown

Malls to markets
Designer Suneet Varma tells us that the demand has increased 100% in three years. The requirement, he shares, ranges from sari-style gowns to corsets or crop tops with voluminous skirts.

"The reason behind any trend today, be it food or fashion, is the Internet. Anyone with the smartphone or a tablet can see what the world is wearing, say to a glamorous wedding or the MET Gala. Also, unlike before when you would have to ask a friend going abroad to get you international labels, today, everything is available here," elaborates Varma.

Mulund's Riddhi Design Studio devotes much of its racks to gowns
Mulund's Riddhi Design Studio devotes much of its racks to gowns

Designer Tarun Tahiliani has a similar opinion, "An increased need for comfort and awareness of western cuts and structured fit, exposure to images from red carpet events and an overload of imagery on social media have had a role to play in this change."

Designers Shantanu and Nikhil (S & N) tell us, "One of the most significant changes we have seen is the transition from the traditional form of the Indian bridal wear to the more contemporary cocktail gowns and ball gowns."

Suneet Varma
Suneet Varma

And options are available for every budget too. Amit Dhamecha, who runs Riddhi Design Studio in the local market at Mulund (W), tells us that gowns can cost anywhere between '8,000 to '50,000 in local boutiques, and there are buyers for both ends of the bracket.

"Most girls opt for gowns as they can make you look taller when you wear heels because it is fitted at the bust and flow-ey below. Also, it is modern. Brides, and members of family opt for gowns for various functions.

Such is the demand, that in some months of the year, it is almost 60% sales of gowns and 40% for lehengas," Dhamecha says. The studio also runs a wholesale business and they have seen a great increase in demand for gowns from all parts of India and abroad too.

And it is not just metro cities but Tier II cities too. "Mumbai and Delhi have access to international designer brands like Gucci or Dior too. For girls from smaller towns, it's only Indian designers. We have designed for many weddings in Chandigarh, Indore and Surat," says Varma.

Blogger Mitali Sagar wearing a custom Shantanu & Nikhil gown for her reception
Blogger Mitali Sagar wearing a custom Shantanu & Nikhil gown for her reception

In terms of design, Tahiliani tells us the preference is Indo-Western styles for occasions like mehendi, sangeet and pre-wedding cocktails. "And surely the sari-gown. Since sari-gowns take the traditional sari form and juxtapose it with new techniques of drapery, this silhouette almost instantly works well for any cocktail evening," the S & N team adds.

Can we pull it off?
One usually associates gowns with tall Hollywood actresses or lithe fashion models. So, can Indian women with a shorter average height and a broader bone structure carry these gowns off? Mitali Sagar, of blog House of Misu says we can.

Mumbaikar Priyal Thosani chose a gown for her reception (in pic) and her sangeet for better mobility
Mumbaikar Priyal Thosani chose a gown for her reception (in pic) and her sangeet for better mobility

"Buying off the rack can be a little difficult for petite women in terms of length. However, from local tailors to designers, everyone today offers custom fits and tailoring. I am about 5ft 3 ½ inches tall and yet managed to wear a voluminous gown. I wanted to enjoy the party and had already worn lehengas for my wedding and mehendi. It's a lot of pressure on those attending the wedding too.

With a cocktail style dress code, even my guests got a day off from wearing tight blouses and heavy lehengas. The options are many," says Sagar, who wore a S & N gown for her reception. Sagar advises going easy on the jewellery though. She paired her emerald green gown with plain diamond jewellery and let the gown be the highlight of her look.

Shantanu and Nikhil
Shantanu and Nikhil

Tahiliani believes, "Brides should always wear what suits their personality and not follow trends blindly." "Earlier, I had the belief that Indian women cannot wear gowns. But today, I don't think so. Brides are open to design suggestions. They work hard on their fitness levels for the big day and know when something makes them look out of proportion.

One should stick to fewer embellishments as the silhouette is exaggerated and with more embroideries, it will look like yet another lehenga. Also, don't wear similar colours for all your functions as your make-up will also be the same and all the outfits won't stand out," shares Varma.

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