Velvet, the cult classic, is getting a vibrant upgrade this season, with fashion labels like Sabyasachi, Torani and Shruti Sancheti putting a fresh spin on the fabric. While the luscious velvet ensembles on designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s Instagram feed stop us in our tracks, Torani’s exuberant makhmal saris instantly inspire an urge to shop. Even internationally, velvet seems to be the flavour of the party season. Actor Jared Leto was recently seen in a teal blue velvet suit on the red carpet of the House Of Gucci UK premiere, which he styled with a soft draped shirt underneath, a diamond pendant and a silver heart minaudiere. Back home, popular fashion influencer Natasha Luthra was seen sporting a velvet blazer by Shruti Sancheti.
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Velvet is making its presence felt this season, thanks to its fluid fall that makes it a winner for the party season when people want to shine and dance. Think a broad mix of vintage prints, retro hippie patterns, saturated hues and old school wallpaper motifs. What’s more, it’s no longer the heavy textile weighing you down. It’s lightweight, fluttery and sheen-inducing with a neo-bohemian touch.
Stylist Eshaa Amiin suggests styling it in structured silhouettes like blouses, jackets and bandhgalas. “A solid velvet ensemble can be styled with statement jewellery, a close neckline blouse, a striking necklace and a maang tika,” she says. “A maharani choker could be a great bet too.”
Designer Karan Torani of label Torani says the royal costumes of Punjabi overlords harboured a penchant for the fabric, which was put on the textile map by the Mughals. “Makhmal (velvet) has been a prominent weave in the Middle East and Asia since the 15th century,” he says. “For me, it defines my expression of timeless elegance. It’s glamourous yet stays away from an overtly opulent blingy statement.”
Torani underscores a humble richness in the weaves of velvet and hails it as “an ensemble elevator”. “You need to tone down the rest of your styling for it to really come through and work its magic. For example, if you’re wearing a zardozi makhmal doshala (shawl) or a printed velvet sari, add some flowers in your hair and a pair of emerald jhumkas or a choker. Accent it with a simple kajal and a no make-up look,” he suggests. “Less is more. Any additional elements or accessories would take away from the beauty of the garment.”
The bling is on
Designer Sancheti, who’s toyed with digital and screen printing on velvet, compares its tactile fall to the wispy georgette. “Its current iteration is not stiff, but nimble like chiffon allowing movement and freedom,” explains the Nagpur-based designer, who recently showcased a velvet halter with a Chantilly lace sari.
According to designer Aniket Satam, velvet has been the treasured textiles right from the Silk Route era. “The rich tactile feel and its luminous texture instantly makes this fabric an evening wear must-have, especially during winters. This party season, think of the vintage Victorian palette of pistachio green, dusty rose, lavender to rustic deeper shades of aubergine merlot and pumpkin orange,” he says.
The many layers
The versatility of the fabric allows designers across the board to explore and experiment with numerous silhouettes, from being structural to fluid drapery.
“It’s no longer just an outerwear textile. When appropriately used, with delicate lace and tulle, it can be intimate and sensual. It has a certain boudoir Victorian appeal which works with our traditional Indian aesthetic,” adds Satam.
What’s more, the burnt-out velvet, popularly known as Brasso, is going to be in trend along with some embossing accents.
Neha Gupta of label Ranian, who’s experimented with velvet in her festive line this season, underscores its old school regalia.
During the research for a winter wedding outing, the designer explored its multi-faceted interpretation, right from the wardrobes of the Mughals to the Rajputs.
“The Nizams made this textile a trendsetter for men’s outerwear and since then it has become a popular fixture in men’s ethnic clothes. The rich textile feel perfectly complements the intricate heirloom and embroideries, and together the result is classic and luxe,” she says. Basically, picture embroidered velvet shawls that keep you extra warm during the holiday festivities and you will get the gist.
For this winter, the lush velvet with intricate embroidery has taken extra space in festive wardrobes. And a quick look at the latest collections of fashion labels and brands will confirm it.
Take Nirmooha’s recent collection, for instance. Its designer Prreeti Jaiin Nainutia informs that their festive collection includes a hand-embroidered velvet jacket and pants set “that mirrors 70s glam.”
Labels like trueBrowns have also featured a variety of velvet ensembles in shades of burgundy, reds and blues in their autumn-winter 2021 collections. Udita Bansal, the founder of trueBrowns, says, “The richness that the textile emits as well as the deep shades make it perfect for holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.”
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