What Indian Fashion Week reveals about this year’s bridal fashion trends

Over a dozen top designers showcased their creations at India Haute Couture Week (ICW), offering a glimpse into, among other things, bridal wear trends that are forming one of the world’s largest bridal markets.

The 15th annual event, which concluded this weekend in the capital city of New Delhi, was the first event to be staged on a physical airstrip since the start of the pandemic. All 13 participating couturiers took the opportunity to celebrate the rich heritage of Indian handicrafts and fabrics in both Western and traditional South Asian silhouettes. As always, bridal wear figured prominently.

“In India, haute couture is part of the wedding tradition and many brides turn to India Fashion Week for tips on what to wear,” said Sunil Seti, president of the Fashion Design Council of India (FCDI).

While European fashion sets the tone for the exclusive world of haute couture, in India it has a significant impact on people’s buying behavior. This is especially evident in the country’s wedding industry, which was worth about $50 billion a year before the pandemic and was second only to the United States, according to a 2017 report from consultancy KPMG.

Models display creations by Falguni designer Shane Peacock during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, India on July 29, 2022. Credit: Javed Dar/Xinhua/Getty Images

“In Paris, haute couture leads to editorials and red carpet looks,” said designer Rahul Mishra, an ICW regular who presented three collections at the prestigious Paris Fashion Week. “In India, haute couture week stimulates real consumption.”

Handicrafts form the basis of fashion and they play an important role in the multi-day ceremonies often referred to as “big fat Indian weddings”.

“Weddings in India have always been lavish and spectacular,” says wedding planner Devika Narain. “There has been a shift since the pandemic (whereby) weddings are more intimate and people want to create experiences. Quality is more important than quantity and they are looking for something unique.”

This extends to clothing. Narain said many Indian brides are willing to spend Rs 600,000 to Rs 10 million ($7,600 to $126,000) just for a wedding dress. “Don’t forget: Indian weddings involve more than one feature,” she said. “Therefore, multiple ensembles are needed.”

A model presents a creation by designer Amit Aggarwal during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 30, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Amit Aggarwal during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 30, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking to CNN ahead of his Saturday ICW presentation, designer Amit Aggarwal, who is known for playing with recycled materials and deconstructing traditional silhouettes, said today’s brides and grooms no longer look to one designer. “Now they want to look different in every feature, from traditional to experimental,” he said. “And, of course, they have to be Instagram-friendly.”

Here is a roundup of the key bridal trends emerging from India Fashion Week 2022.

Subdued but powerful

Models present creations by designer Tarun Tahiliani during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 22, 2022.

Models present creations by designer Tarun Tahiliani during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 22, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Red may be the color traditionally worn by Hindu brides, but many are now looking for more subdued tones. Take, for example, Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, who recently married actor Ranbir Kapoor in an embroidered ivory sari.
A model presents a creation by designer Anamika Khanna during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 31, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Anamika Khanna during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 31, 2022. Credit: Sharma’s Money/AFP/Getty Images

The transition to lighter hues was evident throughout ICW 2022. Almost half of designer Tarun Tahiliani’s collection was in shades of beige, oyster, biscuit and lavender. Anju Modi and Anamika Khanna opted for ivory pieces, with the latter embellishing her designs with pearls and the former mixing and matching with burgundy and coral pink. Meanwhile, Rahul Mishra used bright colors to decorate the surface, but in many cases left the base fabric light.

Models present creations by designer Rahul Mishra at FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 23, 2022.

Models present creations by designer Rahul Mishra at FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 23, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Mishra said the shift is due to changing preferences among Generation Z. Traditionally, wedding ceremonies were held in the early evening, with brides rapidly changing into their ceremonial attire immediately afterward. Now, as couples try to make the ceremony more intimate and the reception a party to party all night long, the rules of bridal attire have changed in turn. “Because the wedding takes place during the day, brides prefer softer colors and no longer feel the need to stick with red,” Mishra said.

East meets West

Treated as separate events, ceremonies have had another negative impact on bridal wear, according to Nandini Bhalla, editor of Brides Today. “It gave brides the freedom to wear whatever they like to the reception,” she said. “And I think that’s the reason we see so many cocktails and dresses at (Indian Fashion) Week.”

A model presents a creation by designer Rahul Mishra during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 23, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Rahul Mishra during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 23, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

A model presents a creation by designer Rahul Mishra during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 23, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Rahul Mishra during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 23, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Many evening looks on the runway combined Indian and Western styles, such as draped dresses with floral embroidery and appliqués by Varun Bala and black and gold draped suit ensembles by Rahul Mishra. House of Valaya founder JJ Valaya paired an ivory black sari with a chevron jacket with an embroidered velvet jacket, while luxury brand Falguni Shane Peacock’s lehengas were ball gown-like. Known for his new age silhouettes, Amit Aggarwal has remodeled the lehenga with his 3D skirts and recycled dupattas.

A model presents a creation by designer Amit Aggarwal during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 30, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Amit Aggarwal during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 30, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Aggarwal wowed with her hot pink polymer pleated strapless dress, Anamika Khanna nodded to streetwear with her “tousled” fashion, and Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna stole the spotlight with their striking black embellished peek-a-boo dress with a thigh-high slit and daring low-cut. neckline.

“You have to remember that an Indian wedding is not only about brides, but also about her sisters, bridesmaids and other guests who need jewelry that they can wear over and over again,” Bhalla said.

A model presents a creation by designer Anamika Khanna during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 31, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Anamika Khanna during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 31, 2022. Credit: Sharma’s Money/AFP/Getty Images

Bollywood actress Malaika Arora presents a creation by designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna at FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 27, 2022.

Bollywood actress Malaika Arora presents a creation by designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna at FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 27, 2022. Credit: Sharma’s Money/AFP/Getty Images

Models present a creation by designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 27, 2022.

Models present a creation by designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 27, 2022. Credit: Sharma’s Money/AFP/Getty Images

sexy on top

The modest blouse was once one of the most underrated pieces of an Indian ensemble, but not anymore. According to Bhalla, openly low necklines and cropped, almost invisible blouses are common in modern India. “Ten years ago, this would not have happened,” she added. “All the talk about body positivity has changed that and now women of all sizes want to wear a crop top.”

It also influenced bridal wear, be it Tarun Tahiliani’s flossing, JJ Valaya’s crew necks paired with a belt, Varun Bahl’s tiny spaghetti strap blouses, or Anamika Khanna’s tribal-infused bras.

A model presents a creation by designer Varun Bala during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 26, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Varun Bala during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 26, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

A model presents a creation by Varun Bahl during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, India on July 26, 2022.

A model presents a creation by Varun Bahl during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, India on July 26, 2022. Credit: Javed Dar/Xinhua/Getty Images

A model presents a creation by designer JJ Valai during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 24, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer JJ Valai during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi, July 24, 2022. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Bare necks are also great for statement jewelry, and several participating designers have collaborated with high-end jewelers for their runway shows.

Men just want to have fun

According to FDCI President Sunil Seti, the show featured more menswear than any previous ICW show.

Nearly every couturier featured some of them, and menswear designer Kunal Rawal was also invited to make his ICW debut (although his show did feature women dressed in “guy” kurtas, with Rawal emphasizing that many of his clothes were “genderless” ). There was a new energy and special attention to “women’s outfits”.

“The groom’s clothes were (traditionally) chosen by an aunt or family member, but not now,” Rawal said. “Men want something unique and something that says something about them.”

A model displays a creation by designer Kunal Rawal during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, India on July 30, 2022.

A model displays a creation by designer Kunal Rawal during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, India on July 30, 2022. Credit: Javed Dar/Xinhua/Getty Images

A model presents a creation by designer Sunit Varma during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 28, 2022.

A model presents a creation by designer Sunit Varma during FDCI India Haute Couture Week in New Delhi, July 28, 2022. Credit: Sharma’s Money/AFP/Getty Images

From red shervanis with decadent Sunit Varma embroidery to Rohit Gandhi’s and Rahul Khanna’s layered Kurt suits worn with embellished jackets, the designs were aimed at men who want to make a statement. Siddartha Tytler paired a kurta with a bomber jacket, giving his ensembles a sense of fusion. Floral motifs were not just for brides: the Mishra and Bahl collections included vibrant floral motifs.

Top image caption: A model presents a creation by designer Tarun Tahiliani during FDCI India Fashion Week in New Delhi on July 22, 2022.

This article has been updated with details about Alia Bhatt’s wedding attire.

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