Italian lace, Parisian semi-precious stones, love poems embroidered on the pleats of the skirt… the chase for the showstopper lehenga is sending New-Age brides, across the globe
The great Indian wedding saga is going through a major sartorial twist – the pursuit of the exclusive, customised, bridal lehenga. Gone are the days of recce at Chandni Chowk or at designer stores. New-Age brides aren’t leaving any pleat unturned — from any corner of the world — for that showstopper outfit.
For #Instabrides, the perfect wedding lehenga is a project in itself. Los Angeles-based bride Jasleen Kaur, 25, made five trips to Delhi to finalize her bridal lehenga. It took nine months and it cost her 1 crore! “Between several designs and Whatsapp messages, my lehenga was created to perfection,” says Kaur.
The pressure to stand out has reached mammoth proportions in the age of social media. In a bid to outdo each another, Indian brides are discovering refreshing original ideas. Fashion designer Kresha Bajaj designed her own lehenga, with detailing of her entire love story. It took her months to embroider the piece, which depicts important milestones in her relationship. Says Bajaj, “I didn’t want to get bored looking at my lehenga, that would mean getting bored looking at my love story. We are the social media brides. We document every moment of our lives and I wanted my lehenga to be unique.”
Bangalore-based bride Tanvi Mahajan scanned Instagram brides and several designers for the perfect lehenga. “I took printouts, and went to 19 top bridal designers and outlets in the country. It took four months before I shortlisted my outfit, which took another seven months to make (including four trial fittings).”
The bridal lehenga remains highly lucrative for most Indian designers, who are cashing in on the growing $20 million Indian wedding industry.
Says designer Suneet Varma, “The search for the perfect wedding lehenga has gotten super competitive in the last few years. Today’s brides know their mind. They come with files and printouts of what their dream outfit should look like. They come well-prepared and well-researched.”
It’s not just about designs. From how-to-wear lehenga classes that teach you how to walk, dance and jump around in a lehenga, to lessons in how-to-change-into-two lehengas for different looks, in two hours – the bridal lehenga story has taken a different turn. For instance, one bride whose family had always worn pink at weddings, wanted Varma to create a shade of pink that nobody had ever seen before! He says, “The economics has also changed. Brides want lace from Italy, embroidery from Rajasthan, which takes craftsmanship and time, and they don’t shy from spending 6 lakh to 15 lakh for a lehenga!” One bride wanted fresh flowers infused with zardozi on her lehenga for a vintage look. Says designer Leena Singh, “I told her to go for 3D flowers on her lehenga. Another wanted her outfit to have the patterns of the inlay work of Taj Mahal! It took us over 10 months to work on the outfit.”
In her book, Quest for the Dress: Finding Your Dream Gown Without Losing Your Sanity, Friends, or Groom , author Nancy Di Fabbio writes how there’s an entire industry trying to help brides find their dream dress without losing their sanity in the process.
Designer JJ Valaya thinks that this trend will only become bigger in the future. “The wedding lehenga is witnessing the calm before the storm. The aspiration for the perfect lehenga is being redefined by the Instageneration brides.”
“The wedding lehenga is witnessing the calm before the storm. The aspiration for the perfect lehenga is being redefined by the Instageneration brides”. — J J Valaya, fashion designer
According to a recent report, a typical Indian wedding in the US costs between 48,00,000 and 64,09,500, three times more than the average American nuptials. While the Indian bridalwear market is worth 10,000 crore!