Written by Nagina Bains
The festive bonhomie has diverse meanings — from the rituals, gifts, adornment of homes, the entertaining clash between the spades and the clubs in card sessions, legendary Diwali and Navratri dos and for a few who still believe in earthen lamps, rangoli , making the annual mithai, indulging in endless chai and sweetmeats. Then there is wearing the traditional wear that needs to be aired by this time of the year.
It is that time of the year again when we love raiding our mother’s closets and pulling out her vintage ikkats and patli pallus and the traditional gold jewellery, all of which are buried somewhere deep inside her closet. And like everything else, innovation is the inevitable path that any tradition must follow to engage, and the Indian festive couture hasn’t been far behind. Samarjeet Kaur Gurm-Buwal, a Chandigarh-based fashion couturier, who runs the label Plumtin says, “Fashion is cyclical in nature. The concept of ‘newness’ in fashion doesn’t refer to the premiere of a trend, but rather its revival. This year too, the silhouettes and trends will be an inspired continuation of retro ages. At Plumtin, we too recommend classic silhouettes as they always stay in trend and last several seasons to come.”
Contemporary outlook with a traditional core has defined the Indian ethos for the last decade or so and that’s the reason that the sari pants took birth and dhoti salwars walked the fashion ramps around the world. Raghavi Lamba, a Delhi-based designer behind the fashion label Rococo, says, “Festive dressing now has a new meaning. People want to experiment with the age-old sari and redefine traditional dressing. Dramatic sleeves and ruffles were earlier restricted to western wear but now we’ve tried to combine western silhouettes with Indian ideas, thus giving birth to a drape pant sari. We’ve tried to incorporate comfort with fashion.”
Oscar Wilde probably didn’t fathom that his definition of colour would stretch across diaspora when he famously said, ‘Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.’ And that’s most true for fashion. “The festive season of 2019 presents options for smart colours like a champagne or a forest green. Also with winters approaching, it’s a great alternative to skip the usual black for evening occasion wear,” confirms Raghavi.
The colour of the year may be coral “but what we see coming through is a play of pastels and softer hues of coral shades along with creams, grays, light pinks and peaches, with bolder embroideries of florals and birds,” says Gurm-Buwal. Shikha Rathore, who will soon launch her label in Udaipur, feels that the traditional Rajasthani couture has seen a colossal image makeover with regards to colour. She explains, “The ongoing trends that I have been coming across are in dark colors like emerald green, magenta and deep wine — they are the in thing this season,” she says.
The great Indian wedding season follows soon after and each year the festive spirit envelops a new fashion flaunting the idea of experimentation and innovation. “This year is about blending gold with off whites and nudes and accentuating with your chandbalis, navratana haar, Lucknawi saat lada, and even temple jewellery,” says Suhasini Patel, a designer based in Ahmedabad. Gurm-Buwal says, “Ghararas and shararas for sangeet and cocktail nights, classic traditional lehengas embroidered in zardozi for the wedding day and a contemporary look with glittery gowns embroidered in beads/sequins for the reception party are popular. Brides now try out different colours when choosing outfits — we believe that a colour which gives the bride a natural blush on her face is the right colour for her.” Rathore adds that “the trends in the weddings are a lot of shararas and ghararas with scalloping and the fabric this year seems to be organza for the scope it gives you to innovate, design and accentuate.”
The festive fashion has, over a period of time, led to a parallel makeover in menswear, which has seen a stupendous jump from the ubiquitous kurta pajama. Patel says, “Men are leaning towards a bold palette as was observed during the navratras. Though neutrals are safe too.” As asymmetrical kurtas get paired with slim pants and denims, the men’s couture promises a dramatic entre this festive season. Samarjeet sums up aptly, “the hottest trend will always be being you and that will always be in and never go out of fashion”.