Recently, Santiago-raised Chilean designer and artist Alejandra Domínguez and Jaipur-based Indian visual artist Abhinav Sethi tied the knot in Chile. What had the fashion world abuzz was the couple’s unconventional wedding pick. While the bride opted for a clean and minimal gown by Bodice (designer Ruchika Sachdeva’s first attempt at bridal dressing), the groom looked dapper in a muted Antar-Agni ensemble. No excessive zardozi, no sequins and no feathers. Simple, fuss-free yet striking.
Today one can see all kinds of brides—minimalists, maximalists, traditional and modern. Older brides in particular seem to be more focused on cuts and have a pared-back and personalised approach to dressing. And if she wants to embrace a more thoughtful and individualistic approach, she has some options.
For while minimal may still not be the norm, most designers who offer OTT looks in their bridal campaigns are now happy to customise for someone who wants a minimal look. There is an array of brands offering mulmul lehngas, gowns devoid of excessive appliqué work and textured fabrics that do most of the talking.
Architect Alisha Patel, for example, said “I do” in a minimal ensemble from 431-88 by Shweta Kapur in a New Zealand vineyard a few weeks ago. She offset a a champagne-hued dramatic fringe top with the quiet sophistication of a simple satin lehnga (she amped up the look with a maang tika, jhumkas and a choker). Another bride, Shuchita Sancheti, opted for an ivory Ridhi Mehra creation, a draped ruffled sari worn with an embroidered peplum. Designer Arpita Mehta too recently dressed a bride in a ruffled sari—lightweight, with floral prints and a beaded border.
Sachdeva believes that fashion is cyclical, even when it comes to bridalwear. “When maximalism reaches its peak, one starts craving a palate cleanser and that’s when clean, simpler, uncluttered styles start feeling right. I think revenge dressing might apply to the everyday outfits people opt for. When it comes to weddings, the pandemic has helped us realise what is superfluous and what’s actually essential; a cleaner, simpler approach goes with the zeitgeist,” she says. While it’s important to feel and look your best, comfort should be factored in when styling a bridal look. “Fabric, fit and silhouette are at the forefront of a minimal look. Wearing statement, meaningful accessories, like an heirloom with emotional value, makes the day all the more special,” she adds.
Kapur has noticed that while younger brides may want all the drama of a red lehnga, older brides want outfits they are spending so much money on to be more versatile. “Older brides and the families are now opting for pieces that can be worn in different ways later on. It’s a way more sustainable approach. Since 431-88 is known for its minimal approach, we also have brides coming to us to break down their heavy couture. So, for example, they will ask us to give them a plain sari with one of their heavy lehnga blouses (for post-wedding bashes),” adds Kapur.
Talking about a recent client, designer Arpita Mehta says, “We dressed a beautiful minimal bride, who decided to go with our printed ruffle sari and blouse set with a head dupatta.” The sari had bloom prints all over and was offset by polki jewellery and a scalloped trimmed dupatta. Lightweight, striking yet decidedly toned down.
“I feel every bride has become more confident of how she would like to dress at her wedding rather than following accepted norms,” she adds. “Having said that, brides have a lot of options if they decide to go minimal, as that totally depends on how one styles their look. ”
Two stylists offer their take on the look
“The trick to being a minimal bride is balancing your entire look. If you wish to wear a heavily embellished outfit, you must downplay the jewellery, hair and make-up. Having certain elements in your entire look stand out gracefully is one of the most important factors. I love the idea of brides these days going for a plain silk lehnga and taking it a notch up with the jewellery (statement headpiece) and dupatta.”
Make-up and hair are of equal importance in shaping the look. “Soft dewy skin, lots of peaches and nudes and going for wispy hairstyles work wonders. It has been decades of doing pulled back buns and tied hair. Let your hair loose,” she recommends.
“In terms of materials and cuts, I would suggest one should opt for satin/silk fabrics either as a sari or in a pre-drape. The fabric itself will give an illusion of embellishments to the outfit. One can choose to dress up this sari look with an embroidered strappy blouse or go heavy on the jewellery in either jadau or diamonds,” suggests Gilani.
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Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based journalist and digital creator.