Last week, all eyes were on the much anticipated Mira Rajput-Shahid Kapoor nuptials. As the festivities and guests hopped from Delhi to Mumbai, it was interesting to see the sartorial choices that Rajput made. Most noticeable among them was her ensemble for her wedding reception. Not looking to get weighed down by a traditional lehenga-choli, the 21-year-old bride went in for a blue Manish Malhotra ball gown skirt with large embroidered flowers, paired with a white, fully embellished crop top. The dupatta was done away with and the bride looked at ease and chic. So did actor Alia Bhatt who wore a skirt-lehenga paired with cape at the function. The two drove home the point that when it comes to traditional silhouettes such as the lehenga, there’s a lot of room for having fun.
That’s something designer Yogesh Chaudhary of the label Surendri agrees with. This year the designer made a foray into evening and primarily “experimental bridal ensembles” with his Spring-Summer 2015 collection titled “Mithu”. Aimed at the new age bride, the lehenga in his collection got an interesting makeover with skirt-like silhouettes, minimum embellishments and easy styling. “Essentially the lehenga is a long, flowing voluminous skirt. It has always been about kalis or flare that a skirt has,” says Chaudhary, who feels young brides are keen to follow tradition but with a contemporary twist. “With an increasing number of destination weddings on the rise, today brides want no-fuss, flowing silhouettes that look good but not over the top. A lehenga as a skirt or vice versa makes all the sense,” adds the designer.
The change in the lehenga — from being heavy in weight and fussy to becoming light and breezy — is hard to miss. Printed ball skirts with pockets paired with crop tops were the mainstay of designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s collection showcased at Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2015 earlier this year. The contemporisation of the lehenga is equally evident in collections by designers such as Manish Malhotra, Sanjay Garg and Payal Singhal who have given a new look to the age-old silhouette. The choice of fabrics such as silk, tulle and even neoprene have made the lehenga feel and look lighter. “The skirt silhouette is flattering to the Indian body type. It hides all flaws.
Moreover, high waist skirts are popular this season and it’s a look which suits almost everyone,” says designer Payal Khandwala.
Bohemian skirts and flowing silhouettes have been the designer’s signature style and she is happy to see the skirt or a skirt-like lehenga make its presence felt in formal wear as well. Her Spring-Summer 2015 collection offers silk skirts, some in bold colours and others with stripes that can take the wearer from a day to evening function with ease. “A skirt is a versatile separate. It’s easy to mix up a maxi skirt with a range of tops. Instead of opting for a formal gown, one can wear the skirt in many ways — be it with a crop top, a fitted shirt or even a ganji depending on the occasion,” explains Khandwala.
Bollywood’s leading ladies have done much to popularise the lehenga-skirt on the red carpet as well. Among those who have opted for full volume skirts and given designer saris and bodycon dresses a miss are actors Sonam Kapoor, Neha Dhupia and Aditi Rao Hydari. “Maxi skirts spell relaxed chic,” says designer Payal Pratap. Not just restricted to being resort wear, the designer agrees that the skirt is finding acceptance in the evening wear space including Indian wear. “It’s one of my favourite silhouettes that I’ve found creeping back into each of my collections,” says Pratap, whose Spring-Summer 2015 collection offers tiered and layered maxi skirts with just the right amount of flare. “I kept in mind a global modern Indian silhouette and the skirt is a perfect fit,” she sums up.