Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004





In Fashion…Wedding belles

Once marriages were made in heaven. Not actually, but a bit of earth was transformed into a bit of heaven. Homes were decorated with the freshest of flowers, floors were beautified with colourful rangoli, brides were bathed in turmeric water and dressed in shimmering silks and dazzling jewellery, and guests were fed and pampered silly for at least a week. For, that is how long the wedding ceremonies took!

The initial post-independent decades saw a curb in such festivity: food shortages and Nehruvian socialism discouraged pomp and splendour, and I remember that there was even a rule restraining the number of guests one could invite for any function.

But, Socialism and moderation have now been swept aside by the winds of consumerism in an era where some draw the fanciest of salaries and have such large disposable incomes that they are always wondering where to dump the dough. Why not on marriages? Yes, why not.

Some Indian weddings have become elaborately lavish affairs, particularly in cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, where each rich family wants to outdo the other. It is, therefore, not surprising that an average of Rs 25 lakhs are spent on each marriage, and with 60 per cent being budgeted for saris, jewellery and other accessories, the Indian bridal industry is a Rs 40,000-crore annual business today. The remaining 40 per cent goes largely for food and entertainment.

"The multibillion wedding industry in India is on a new high” said Divya Gurwara, CEO of Bridal Asia, which has been organising an annual exhibition and a fashion show in New Delhi. ”Flamenco dancers, helicopters showering rose petals on the guests and even a recreation of the Niagara Falls are no more a rare sight at Indian marriages. With fresh ideas percolating by the hour, the Indian wedding bazaar is continually reinventing itself to meet the increasingly flamboyant tastes of customers. Our aim is to provide under one roof everything that is required for a perfect contemporary marriage," Gurwara told me just hours after the eighth edition of her Bridal Asia Fashion Show and Exhibition ended in New Delhi this January 2007.

This latest showing had participants from the entire subcontinent. “There is a common cultural thread binding this part of the world, which is why we had six designers from Pakistan, besides some of the best talent from across our country”, Gurwara averred.

Here is a sample of what we saw at the New Delhi fashion show and exhibition. Bhairavi Jaikishen showed Indo-Western silhouettes of short kurtis with trousers and dupattas to compliment the attire. Her trendy lehengas with heavily sequined embroidery pulsated with colour. Surily Goel unveiled both cocktail and bridal wear: A special line of traditional saris for cocktail events in pinks, oranges and lemons embellished with unusually combined mother of pearl sequins rubbed shoulders with sexy cholis, embroidered on waistband. There was a sense of youth in Goel’s wardrobe.

Malini Ramani dared to bare the woman who loved to look sensuous. She created this with shine, glamour and plunging necklines. There were also dresses for the honeymoon, and she quipped, “I create only that which I myself would love to wear”. Rina Dhaka is yet another designer who loves to shock, and for Bridal Asia 2007, she added the irreverent, experimental touch, puckering the silhouette, flouncing the hem-line, fitting the body and celebrating style.

Often called the guru of design, Suneet Varma, has always been renowned for opulent bridal ensembles. His collections on the ramp were modern to meet the aspirations of the independent firebrand bride. Combining heritage textiles with a chic look, he crafted shapes that were strong in structure and luxurious in feel. Bright, exuberant embellishment and shaped, contoured and skilfully draped bridal clothing matched layering and sexy corsets to create the mesmerising signature style of this legendary designer.

For Falguni and Shane Peacock, brides must exude flippant sensual persona. Their brides, like quintessential divas, emerged in corsets, fitted fishnet lehengas and sheer chiffon scarves. A husband and wife duo who divide the task of designing and marketing amongst themselves, Shane and Falguni stormed the senior bastion with their inimitable sense of elegance adding a handful of zing to the bridal extravaganza.

(Webposted January 16 2007)