Neon Goes Native

Indian wear is having an electric moment as saris and lehengas take on acid hues

Written by Kimi Dangor | Published: July 17, 2013 3:36 am

Prepare for more than a flash of fluorescence this festive season as lime green saris meet eye-popping pink lehengas and electric blue kurtas. Far from being a passing fad,neon colours are proving to be one of fashion’s fastest ‘glowing’ trends this year. Now hues such as acid yellow,neon green,hot pink and tangerine orange have moved on from western silhouettes and pop accessories to traditional Indian attire.

While designer Manish Malhotra’s sheer colour-blocked chiffon saris and neon numbers with kashida embroidery borders have been spotted on celebrities including Sridevi and Priyanka Chopra,fellow seasoned sartorialists Suneet Varma and Niki Mahajan have also infused their summer sari collections with fluorescence for a playful touch. Elsewhere,Payal Singhal introduced a shot of chartreuse in her Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2013 line. Masaba Gupta,who has made bright colours part of her trademark style,brought the same vibrancy to her debut Satya Paul Autumn Winter 2013 line at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week with “Every Neon Counts”.

Long considered apt for a preppy summer’s day palette,exuberant neons have invaded autumnal colour charts too. Designer Gaurav Gupta calls it a “much-awaited” reprieve. “I think our mass subconscious got bored with classic colours and we needed a colour burst,something younger and fresher,” says the couturier,who dipped into the unconventional spectrum not only for his couture 2012 collection but also for his Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter 2013 lines. He stands by his unusual choice of colours for his sari and lehenga gowns. “According to me,neons have entered the realm of classics. And since my clothes are more about silhouette and drape,one can easily work with an impactful colour. It adds to the drama and highlights the construction of the drape,” says Gupta.

Another drape that is seeing a youthful revival at the hands of designer Neeta Lulla is the hallowed Kanjeevaram sari. This season she has manipulated the Kanjeevaram into a more lightweight and softer silhouette,with the added dazzle of electric colours. Fluorescent oranges,pinks and yellows combine to give her Kanjeevaram hybrid a contemporary look. “Today,given the economic scenario where embroidery has become expensive,textures and colours are playing a big part in fashion. And colours play a key role in contemporising any silhouette,” says Lulla,who is working on a collection of kalamkari styles in neon colours for the coming festive season.

Contrary to popular belief,these electric shades aren’t restricted to a certain age group,say bridalwear specialists Monica Shah and Karishma Swali of Jade. “Our neon yellow Benarasi sari with a deep purple border would look great on someone older while our intense green anarkali would appeal to our younger clientele,” says Shah.

And while they may not be conventional bridalwear colours,Lulla says she’s already received a lot of inquiries for the neon bridal outfits retailing at her Mumbai boutique. Newbie designer Arpita Mehta says the colours are perfect for pre-wedding functions such as mehendi,sangeet and cocktails. If an acid yellow ensemble is too adventurous for you,let just a hint of neon work its magic. “Use it in the piping,embroidery threads or simply in the finishing. Let the neon colour play hide-and-seek instead of being too in-your-face,” says Mehta,who believes that picking the right fabric also plays an important role. “Pick a fabric that’s not very opaque. The more thicker the fabric,the more overpowering the effect. Using see through fabrics such as nets and light chiffons gives the colours a more watered-down effect and makes them imminently more wearable,” she says.

While Gupta says there are no rules to wearing electric hues as it largely depends on one’s personal ability to carry off a look,Swali of Jade thinks that the impact of neons is enhanced when paired with neutrals or soft pastels of the same colour family. “Muted metallics look great. We like to pair a stunning neon pink sari with a muted silver blouse. Textures go a long way in creating the perfect image. Subtle embroidery will add a sense of timelessness to the neon trend,” says Swali.

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