From traditional zardozi and kundan work to uber-luxurious modern embroidery like lace appliqué and pearls, Indian brides are spoilt for choice. From ace designers like Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani to the bustling markets of Chandni chowk, we have more options that ever! Just last night, I attended my friend’s Parsi wedding at Four Seasons in Worli and was amazed by the understated elegance of the dresses worn by the bride and the bridal party. White Chikankari lehengas, dainty pearls and swarovski detailing, vintage lace- I saw it all! Has the Indian bride really blossomed in to the quintessential modern bride? Or is chikankari, vintage lace and classic pearls still the choice of an off-beat bride?
A part and parcel of being a wedding planner is to be able to help brides in their trousseau shopping and take them to the best places in town (and sometimes to other popular cities for bridal shopping) to acquaint them with the latest lehenga and bridal trends, embroidery, work and lehenga price range. Taking inspiration from my rounds with these brides, I thought of sharing my experiences. From zari to zardozi, and pita to pearls, I have compiled a list of my favorite embroidery styles, which are the best go-to designers for that particular embroidery and what I like about it with a few suggestions.
GOTA WORK/GOTA PATTI
Lehenga 1: Neon pink lehenga by Anita Dongre Lehenga 2: Bandhej Lehenga with silver gota work (perfect for mehendi or sangeet!)
Left to right: Saree by Manish Malhotra, Pink Lehenga by Jyotsna Tiwari, Gold embellished lehenga by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla.
Below: Shehla khan pink gota patti lehenga
TOP DESIGNERS: ANITA DONGRE, ANAMIKA KHANNA, MANISH MALHOTRA, SHEHLA KHAN, ABU JANI-SANDEEP KHOSLA, JYOTSNA TIWARI
WHY I LOVE IT: Gota is a traditional Rajasthani form of embroidery that involves the application of gold and silver ribbon edging to garments. This trend was revived by fashion designers like Anita Dongre and Manish Malhotra and is hot in demand! Gota work has a good balance between being royal, shiny and blingy and yet light and easy to carry. It has a level of extravagance that just has you gasping!
SUGGESTION: While the traditional gota worn by the folk dancers in Rajsthan has surely gotten a makeover and is being used by ace couturiers; you still need to be a bit choosy about the pattern and design of the gota work in your lehenga. Gota patti really highlights the fabric,so go for rich and luxurious fabrics. I particularly liked the pink bandhej gota lehenga from Anita Dongre which is perfect for a sangeet sandhya. I would also suggest pairing Gota work with a glimmer fabric as gota patti can be very understated and subdued. You shouldn’t end up looking like a guest at your own wedding, right?! But again, one needs to see how this looks on the garment before making a final decision. Complement it with traditional jewels, and you are good to go.
TOP DESIGNERS: ABU JANI AND SANDEEP KHOSLA, SABYASACHI, MEERA AND MUZAFFAR ALI
Chikankari by Meera and Muzaffar Ali
WHY I LOVE IT: When everyone thinks of wearing glitter at their wedding, this is a great choice for someone who dares to be different. And of course who wants to look super chic! There’s almost a deconstructed extravagance and luxury in a Chikankari lehenga. Chikan work has a goddess like quality about it, perfect for a bride who likes being a purist and natural minimalist.
SUGGESTIONS: Chikan work on lehengas, anarkalis or sarees literally screams innocence. It is all about quiet luxury. Pair it with traditional chunky jewelry like kundan, polki or jadau and the result will be resplendent.
Different examples of lace by Sabyasachi like vintage lace, french lace, chantilly lace…the last being my favorite!
TOP DESIGNERS: SABYASACHI, TARUN TAHILIANI, PALLAVI JAIKISHEN
WHY I LOVE IT: When combined with tulle, organza, georgette or chiffon, lace has a drop-dead gorgeous femininity to it. It is a light fabric that can be combined with beads, sequins and pearls for a spectacular effect.
SUGGESTIONS: Lace has a romantic minimalist quality about it. It is feminine, girly and delicate. My only advice would be to not over do it. Let it be understated, simple and elegant.
Top: Sequined lehenga by Jade. Bottom: Mint and gold heavily sequined lehenga worn by a Band Baaja Bride and a royal gold sequined and heavily embellished lehenga, both by Sabyasachi.
Bespoke Sabyasachi lehenga worn by Karishma Kapoor for Hello! magazine.
TOP DESIGNER: SABYASACHI, MANISH MALHOTRA, SHEHLA KHAN, PALLAVI JAIKISHEN, TARUN TAHILINI
WHY I LOVE IT: Designers like Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra best understand the real, sexy, glamorous Indian bride of today. Their iridescent lehengas with loads of sequins in gold, silver or soft browns have a mystical majestic quality about them. They give that burst of light to the lehenga, yet the bride doesn’t look bling! It’s as if he has stuck stars on the lehenga, so that the bride can shine through her wedding festivities!!!
SUGGESTIONS: Try combining sequined lehengas with diamond jewelry. Chandelier earrings or a statement diamond choker will work wonders with a heavily sequined lehenga.
Also, Sabyasachi’s range of sequined lehengas in unusual colors like vintage rose, light browns, mint, cream and gold are absolutely gorgeous! The collection displays a lot of tulle, tilla work and hand embroidery with incredibly ornate antique sequin work. Highly recommended!
PAISLEYS , PEACOCKS AND OTHER TRADITIONAL INDIAN MOTIFS
Picture courtesy: Monica Moghe Photography. Don’t know the designer.
BEST DESIGNER: MANISH ARORA, JJ VALAYA, RITU BERI, RITU KUMAR, PALLAVI JAIKISHEN, ROHIT BAL, FALGUNI AND SHANE PEACOCK, ECRU
WHY I LOVE IT: India has such a rich cultural heritage, what can be better than using some of it as inspiration for your lehenga? Traditional Indian motifs like peacocks and paisleys are very strong and dramatic prints, sure to make a grand statement. Designers use patchwork, embroidered buttis, embellished flowers and leafs and other hand stitched motifs throughout the lehenga and on its borders.
Ritu Kumar is renowned as the undisputed queen of the Indian bridal industry. She got back in style age-old Indian craftsmanship. Her collections blend Indian textiles, hand embroidery and block printing.
SUGGESTIONS: KALAMKARI PATCHWORK – Kalamkari influenced patchwork is so unusual that wearing it is like going against the unspoken norm! It is a rather unlikely embroidery to go for, and that’s what I love most about it~ its uniqueness! It’s modernizing of the old fashioned ideology of what an Indian wedding lehenga should be.
KUNDAN, STONE WORK, ZARI AND ZARDOZI
The top two lehengas are by Tarun Tahiliani , bottom two by JJ Valaya
TOP DESIGNERS: JJ VALAYA, TARUN TAHILIANI, ROHIT BAL, RITU BERI, RITU KUMAR, ARCHANA KOCHHAR, MANISH MALHOTRA, ECRU
WHY I LOVE IT: While kundan and crystal work has been overdone by lehenga designers across the country, there are still some ace designers who use these embellishments with their signature touch of class and finesse!
With incredible kundan, swarovski, zari and semi precious stone work, Tarun Tahilaiani’s lehengas are sparkly glimmery and radiant but in a classy way with something very withholding about it. I love how ornate his work is and the attention to detail is impeccable. His use of heavy crystal and sequined borders, lace, & swarovski elements make his lehengas among my favourites!
SUGGESTIONS: Rohit Bal’s Maroon lehenga reminds me why zari and zardozi work looks even more regal when teamed with velvet. The luscious and rich velvet fabric brings out the gold in the zari and zardozi work making it more prominent. I quite like most of the creations of Frontier Bazar as well!
Signing off: For every bride, there is a perfect wedding lehenga waiting to be discovered 🙂