For a designer who revels in colour, celebrates craftsmanship and draws inspiration from the sights, sounds and skills of vibrant Rajasthan for her bridal wear, Anita Dongre says she is just as happy designing clothes bereft of bright hues and lashings of ornate gold. The Mumbai-based designer recently launched her first-ever line of white wedding gowns, evocatively titled ‘One World’. Dongre unveiled the line of 24 limited-edition bridal gowns at a special preview at her flagship store on West Broadway in New York during New York Bridal Week in early October, and now has a select few up for view at her store in Khar, Mumbai.
With four brands to helm – namely AND, Global Desi, Anita Dongre and Grassroot – and over 292 exclusive stores, Dongre definitely has her hands full. But when one of her clients, who managed to acquire an off-white gown she’d designed years ago, urged her to create an entire line, Dongre couldn’t pass up the chance. “The joy of working with white, seeing beads and sequins create a pattern on tulle, the simplicity of cutting silhouettes that complement the body, the show of skin through embellished sheers, and then the absolute delight of seeing the sketched design worn elegantly by a bride, is unparalleled and exhilarating,” she says.
As exciting as New York, the city where Dongre chose to launch the line because she loves its multicultural vibe and inherent sense of fashion. “New York is a hub of diversity. Cross-cultural marriages, embracing all customs, are on the rise. A marriage today might be an amalgamation of a white wedding as well as a traditional Indian wedding,” says Dongre.
And while yet another white wedding gown collection might not be a novelty on international shores, Dongre hopes her attempt to “bring traditional Indian craftsmanship to the rest of the globe” will make the line stand apart in an already saturated market. “It’s about marrying traditional elements with modern aesthetics. Intricate hand embroidery by master craftspeople is traced onto contemporary and body-flattering silhouettes — it is the best of both worlds,” she says.
Her eternal muse, Rajasthan, finds resonance in the line, though not in an obvious interpretation. “The core of my inspiration comes from Rajasthan, a place where I spent my childhood. The crafts here are thousands of years old like gota patti, which we have reimagined into motifs inspired by winter blossoms, ancient architecture and delicate filigree embroidery on sheer tulles and rich silks,” says Dongre. Gota work, beads, sequins, pearls and resham embroidery play a starring role in the collection that also features a mix of cocktail gowns in ruby hues, soft greys and pastels, perfect for a day wedding or an evening reception.