April 18 is observed as World Heritage Day each year to celebrate and promote the cultural heritage across the world, thanks to the efforts of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). And heritage is something which is having a moment of sorts in Indian fashion too. Over the last few years, several India design houses have attempted to create a sensorial impact with their powerful take on the bridal trends thus taking us back to our roots. Designers have recreated a parallel universe, which reignite the Maharani regalia, and also speak at length about the history of the rich silk and brocaded textiles. A section of homegrown labels has focused on creating beautiful experience at their flagship stores rooted in our cultures and customs for their clients. Think models looking like they walked out of the Impressionist artworks or the soul-searing imagery reminiscent of a Raja Ravi Varma painting. Picture Chanderi saris shot against the vibrant city of Vrindavan bringing to mind the abandon of Holi. One sees statement lehengas teamed with diaphanous dupattas, which have a conversation with aviator sunnies, as models cut a fine figure in the foyer of a palace. Either the models’ hair is artfully dishevelled or slickly tied into a chignon. All in all the key bridal pieces radiate the quintessential appeal of the late Maharani Gayatri Devi with contemporary touches.
Stylist Allia Al Rufai sees it as a key trend.”The heritage-inspired vocabulary has always been Sabyasachi’s core style. On the other hand, Raw Mango reaches out to their clientele on a cultural level. Guess designers know their customers very well. It’s a lady, who’s well read, and someone who appreciates the arts,” says Allia, who recently styled Anushka Sharma for a magazine inspired by a vintage Maharani look.
As a designer, their goal has been to be representative of India’s potential – as makers, design thinkers, innovators and as a scalable homegrown brand rooted in Indian culture. “We have always believed that music, dance, food are all integral part of the social fabric in India, and the idea is to incorporate local elements not just in our design and spaces, but also the curation of events that engages people on a more personal level,” says designer Sanjay Garg.
There are labels which have made their handwoven textile offerings – the real hero of their visual language. More than selling the merchandise, the shift has been to craft a unique way of storytelling – either a long-forgotten tradition or a local festival. “There’s always a sense of time travel in most of the recent campaigns. It could be Indian Baroque or something derived from Italian Renaissance,” says stylist Isha Bhansali.
Designer Gaurav Khanijo’s recently-unveiled menswear campaign shot against the backdrop of the holy town of Pushkar too airs a choir echoing the poetry of the ghaats and temples.
However, a section of stylists opine that the vintage-inspired campaigns are a bit overdone. “The Maharani look is a tad done to death, I feel. Having said that, I’d suggest embrace heritage, but yet look of the moment. Today’s brides and their entourage of bridesmaids want to dance, drink and have fun at the weddings,” says stylist Mohit Rai.
Channel your inner Maharani
Rework the classics and invest in a timeless wardrobe.
Choose one statement jewel piece and rework the entire ensemble around it, for example a pair of chand baalis.
Add kohl-eyes and rouge lips for the great finish.
A classic chignon bun or a French knot bun works best.
Raid your mom’s closet and give a spin to her treasured handwoven saris.
Muted chanderis, glistening Kanjeevarams and regal Paithanis to intricate pattern Patolas are your go-to bets .
Upgrade the look with a well-fitted, sleeve-less blouse and statement heriloom jewels.
In terms of handbags, a vintage beaded minaudiere or a quilted bag will be perfect to punctuate to look.
Key heritage trends
Models shot in vintage structures like palaces
Statement jadau jewelley and floral pieces
Aviator sunglasses complementing the bridal ensemble
Experiential created for clients rooted in traditions
A focus on indigenous festivals