Some of India’s fashion elite gathered under one roof at The Dorchester on 25th January to see some of India’s most famous fashion designers at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show. The designers were showcasing their high fashion bridal and couture collections giving the bride-to-be and families the unique chance to buy their bridal trousseau with the designers on hand to give advice and guidance. All the brands were there, from big designer brands to new generation talent including Anamika Khanna, Anushree Reddy, Arpita Mehta, Ashima -Leela, Elisha W, Kotwara by Meera Muzaffar, Manish Malhotra, Monisha Thahryamal, Nikasha, Pallavi Jaikishan, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rimple and Harpreet Narula, Sabyaschi, Shehlaa, Sonali Gupta, Tarun Tahiliani and Varun Bahl.
Tarun Tahiliani was feeling honoured to showing his work at the Dorchester hotel as it was a return to where he started. He told BizAsia: To be back here is very special because my first solo show ever was at The Dorchester in 1995 so for me it is like coming home to this amazing place. It is beautiful here. It is very nice to see that someone has taken this leap of faith and taken it all these clothes in a setting that is appropriate to them. It is nice to connect with your customers. If someone does this and brings a whole load of people individually, it is a win for everybody. It is great for all the people shopping to meet the designers and see all our work.
Tahiliani’s work is well known for showing off a modern side to India, ensuring his work pays homage to traditional India but also has a westernised cut, style and finish. He said: For me, I am little tired of Indian Maharajas and tigers. It۪s okay but we have to move forward and for me, the most important part is the fit. Look around here, there is no one here in shalwar kameez apart from the mothers, even they have stopped. Everyone is wearing dresses or boots. You can۪t go back to wearing sacks and bags with nice embroidery, it doesn۪t work. So if you look at the designs I do, they are sculpted to the body like a sari drape where you can pull up a zipper and it is on your body. For me, that is modern. We want to see movement. Now, no matter what wedding or party, there is always a DJ and people want to dance. In order for people to dance, the clothes have to be light and contemporary where the clothes should speak for themselves and hang beautifully and not be these over kitsch costumes.
My designs are Indian but still very contemporary. So even for the men, we do pre- structured drapes, not the dhoti and people want to wear them with Christian Loboutin shoes – that is the honest truth. It is how people would do this, Tahiliani added.
One designer who has always stuck to the traditional side of India when it comes to his clothes is Sabyasachi who is inspired by Kolkata and remains firm in the idea that clothes should be an extension of one’s intellect. Mr Sabyasachi told BizAsia: It is very important to address your roots, to be able to show who you are and being yourself. Luxury has always been produced by a point of arrogance not subjugation so it is important that you address yourself rather than trying to be somebody else.
Sonali Gupta takes a different view when it comes to her designs as she wants to ensure that her designs are timeless and that they are worn again and again. Gupta told BizAsia: There is always a market for traditional Indian clothes but I am actually trying to do a way of designing where I can make clothes very wearable. So a blouse can be used later to be worn with a dhoti or a sari or a pair of tights and it is still a fabulous outfit. I am trying to make people understand that they should show off their outfits and wear separate pieces with different things. I am trying to stop this idea that you buy one outfit and take it out of the wardrobe once a year. I am saying take out your outfits, wear it with five more things and I will help you style it.
Most of the fashion designers present at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show were all responsible for the exquisite clothes we have seen on the Bollywood big screen. One designer who is on speed dial to the big stars of Bollywood is Manish Malhotra, in fact he counts many of the big name actresses, young and old, his close friends. Malhotra told BizAsia: I have dressed everyone in Bollywood. It is something I enjoy, some of them are my friends. Sridevi is my favourite, I am partial to her because I started my career with her so I am emotional about her. I have spent so many years working with her.
Tahiliani was of a different view where he loved how actresses carried themselves and made his clothes their own. He told BizAsia: We are very fortunate, we have dressed everyone we would like to dress. My current favourites are Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. They take everything and elevate it with their presence, courage and they understand luxury. Luxury is something you wear, it is not that you buy and wear something expensive. It۪s how you wear it and that comes from inside.
Gupta bubbled over with excitement when talking about her Bollywood favourites to dress. She said: I have dressed Sonam Kapoor, Yami Gautam and Tara Sharma, so many. We love Bollywood. All of them are beautiful. I love dressing Sonam, she is so pretty and such a happy person that I think you could make her wear anything and her picture is fabulous. She has so much energy, she is so bubbly, she is like a bottle of champagne and she makes the outfit look like something else.
The wedding show was a beautiful event and a true treat to see all the leading designers up close showing off their work with The Dorchester acting as a perfect backdrop.
In Pictures: Aashni + Co Wedding Show at The Dorchester