For her recent wedding day, fashion designer Natasha Dalal wore a self-designed pale gold lehenga with tonal metallic embellishments, joining a growing coterie of modern Indian brides who are looking beyond the very bright traditional wedding dress.
Over the past three years, more brides are tilting towards blush tones and soft pastels in place of the quintessential bridal red. A few months ago, Miheeka Daggubati also chose a dull gold lehenga punctuated with a coral dupatta for her lockdown nuptials to actor Rana Daggubati.
Think of it as the Indian bride 3.0. “White is already the go-to bridal colour in several Indian states like Kerala, Assam and Gujarat. But there is a considerable change in the mainstream colour palette too now. More brides are opting for white, ivory and off-white to match their contemporary vision for their big day,” explains designer Ridhi Mehra, adding that her white lehengas are particularly popular for day-time weddings.
The pandemic and the ensuing rise of intimate weddings have fast-tracked this colour scheme’s popularity. “There is an emphasis on looks that are versatile and reusable, and this works in the favour of neutral colours. Moreover, white is a winning choice for outdoor celebrations, which has become the current norm,” explains celebrity-wedding stylist Aastha Sharma, co-founder of The Wedding Style Project. “Brides have had the time to truly rethink their closets. They want to dress up only for themselves.”
For her December civil wedding in London, Mumbai-born fashion influencer Shloka Sensarma chose a belted blazer-style playsuit with a lace hem. Pearl hair accessories and metallic heels finished the all-white look. “I was sure I wanted to wear something modern and fresh. I did not want a monotonous outfit, as it needed to reflect the global influences that have shaped my life and interest in fashion,” explains Sensarma, who will have a traditional wedding ceremony as well this year. While there was some debate about the appropriateness of white, in the end, it boiled down to finding the perfect outfit irrespective of what rules dictated. “The pandemic suddenly changed so much for so many people. Being locked at home gave me (like many others) the sense of wanting to grab life back, and live it without any regrets. Since fashion is such an important form of self-expression for me, I eventually just chose an outfit that made me most happy.”
One look at the latest collections of leading designers proves they are already intuitive of this changing preference. Sabyasachi and Rahul Mishra offer pristine white lehengas with multi-coloured embroideries. Payal Singhal favours stone-hued designs with gold work, Anita Dongre has a selection of beige gota patti creations, and Abhinav Mishra marries mirrorwork with voluminous skirts. Sunaina Khera’s wispy white saris are tailor-made for intimate weddings while Kumari’s drapes offer versatility. “White is the perfect option for brides who don’t want a stereotypical look. And you can elevate its appeal with hints of gold, red, green embroidery or lacework,” suggests Mehra.
Sharma adds the pivot is not limited to colours alone. Recent brides she has styled have shown an inclination towards silhouettes like jumpsuit saris, trailing jackets, even pantsuits. Take entrepreneur and sustainability advocate Sanjana Rishi, for instance. She grabbed eyeballs when she sported a pre-owned vintage powder blue pantsuit by Italian designer Gianfranco Ferré for her home wedding in New Delhi last year. She wore the attire with a veil from Torani and costume jewellery from Anu Merton. Jewellery designer Suhani Parekh, too, went the unconventional way for civil wedding ceremony, wearing ripped Levi’s jeans with a white shirt, a blazer from Greece, boots bought in Paris and a Lanvin coat. She finished the look with jewellery from her own label Misho. “I loved how well it matched her personality. It was a true reflection of Suhani’s style,” says Sharma. “The bridal wardrobe has now become a way to speak your mind through your clothes. It’s really a case of to each, his own.”