CHANGING CODES OF INDIAN COUTURE
Haute couture pieces are constructed by hand. It also doesn't dress many women. After all, exorbitant prices restrict the couture client base to a few thousand people worldwide. Today, however, to survive into the 21st century, couture houses are evolving with the times. Designers appreciate that the fundamental code of haute couture demands a high level of creativity and craftmanship, handwomen and handcrafted by master craftsmen, but are linking these-honoured codes with the millennial need to add prioritise comfort without compromising on glamour.
"In my earlier days, striking a balance between creativity and wearability didn't matter as much. Over the years, with the experience of running a business and the effect of commerce on the industry, a designer can no longer discount the importance of wearability. Sets, make-up, jewellery, accessories all help build up the theatrical character of couture but that doesn't take away from its ease of wear" explains Rina Dhaka.
Tarun Tahiliani is the go-to choice for Indian brides not just because of his opulent enxembles but an evolving design aesthetic that perceives client' evolving needs. "Today both men and women want magnificent, well cut ensembles which are lightweight and easy to move around in. They appreciate heritage craft and tradition but don't want to live in the past. They want to invest in bridalwear that can be worn as occassionwear worldwide. I keep all of these thoughts with me on the design board. Tomorrow must have freshness!" "Bridal fashion is evolving from the lavishly embellished, heavy lehengas to versatile classic pieces that can be used for special occasions. Gone are the days when the bride invested in a heavily embellished voluminous outfit on her wedding day and kept it in the back of her cupboard forever" agrees Rohit Bal.
This in no way indicates the absence of time-honoured handcrafted couture techniques, says Varun Bahl. "You would be surprised by the number of young designers who are in fact reviving India's beautiful techniques and crafts and taking them into the future. Of late there has been a resurgence of 'India' among designers because they have realized that out strength lies in what we have perfected over centuries and generations. Our embroideries and textiles; dyeing techniques and prints are our greatest strengths."
Together, what they are proposing ideologically is affecting how they design and subsequently how we all dress. It feels exciting as it rims outside couture's insular bubble. With their creative energy and business acumen, we can be assured that next season, the collections will be aimed squarely at the next generation customers driven by rich textile heritage and masterful craftsmanship but above all who value sustainability and comfort. Interesting times ahead!
After a decade of experience, Jasmeen Dugal joined Condenast India as Digital Editor and launched Vogue India's official website. Four years later-with a wealth of experience working with the best in the business- she launched luxury e-zine Explosive Fashion. It's been five years and the self owned, self operated website has no employees; she find it simpler to work with editors and designers to contribute columns. Her mantra? "Believe in your vision, work hard and have a positive attitude that failure is not an option. Success WILL follow!"