For the past four years, movie stars, producers and directors alike from the Indian film fraternity have been converging on Australia’s arts and cultural capital, for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). This bright and colourful annual event, presented by Film Victoria, City Of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government, is the biggest celebration of Indian cinema in the southern hemisphere showcasing a diverse range of films covering different genres and subjects. From record-breaking Bollywood blockbusters to thought provoking documentaries and regional films, this festival is fast becoming a premier event on Melbourne’s burgeoning event calendar.

Leena Mistry of bespoke wedding stationery business, Ratanji Rani, is a woman of many talents. An accountant by profession, Leena always had a creative side to her. She has been hand crafting rakhi’s (threads) for Raksha Bandhan (Hindu festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters) as well as creating custom invitations and wedding stationery for many years. She is now based in the beautiful beachside suburbs of Sydney, Australia and continuing her passion for creating gorgeous stationery. We caught up with the face behind, Ratanji Rani to discuss all things wedding stationery.

Amazon India Couture Week 2015 closed out amid much fanfare with two of the most glamorous actresses in Bollywood, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Kangana Ranaut both strutting their stuff on the runway for designer’s Manish Malhotra and Manav Gangwani respectively.

MANAV GANGWANI

Manav Gangwani is one of the most promising designer’s to come out of India. At just 34 years of age he has already carved a niche for himself as a highly acclaimed fashion designer. Widely recognised for designing opulent couture, Gangwani is incredibly popular amongst high profile celebrities like Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Preity Zinta, Priyanka Chopra, Shahrukh Khan and even Salman Khan. His label has become a force to be reckoned with in the high end luxury fashion market.

Heavily inspired by the French romanticism period, his aptly titled collection, ‘Le’Amoureuse,’ unveiled beautifully structured silhouettes fit for a modern princess. Gangwani has infused his designs with a lot of romance, elegance and vibrancy. His sensuous mens and women’s collection featured luxurious gowns with long trails, capes, sari gowns, tailored suits, coats and dhoti pants.

Manav Gangwani - AICW15 | The Maharani DiariesThe designer presented a mix of feminine and contemporary ensembles in various fabrics and textures such as georgettes, translucent organza, delicate lace, sheer tulles and zardosi work.

As like most designers at this year’s Couture Week, the pieces showcased rich craftsmanship and exquisite thread work with intricate floral embroidery and swarovski crystal embellishments. The rich colour palette was mostly comprised of jewel tones as well as bright corals and turquoise hues.

Bollywood actress of the moment, Kangana Ranaut wore a sumptuous, glittery purple gown complemented with bold and heavy smokey eye makeup and wearing minimal accessories. Her gown weighed around 30 kilograms, but the confident actress looked incredibly comfortable as she effortlessly sashayed down the catwalk.

Gangwani’s whimsical and romantic creations exude grace and royalty. He narrated a beautiful tale on the runway with silhouettes in many deep, contrasting hues, celebrating the sensuality and confidence of a woman. A woman who isn’t afraid to step outside her comfort zone and make a bold statement.

“When a designer chooses a colour palette, it reflects his mindset at that point of time. For me, grey is related to smoke which starts my creative journey. The colour story then leads to coral which depicts fire and moves to aqua that is used to extinguish the fire. It ends with purple which depicts victory and power. Therefore, against all odds, victory is achieved.” – Manav Gangwani 

These bold and statement ensembles are perfect for the bride and groom who want to give their wedding the royal treatment. Manav Gangwani’s classic yet contemporary designs offer unparalleled opulence. Absolutely magnificent.

MANISH MALHOTRA

In what was a fitting grand finale, renowned fashion guru, Manish Malhotra wowed audience and celebrities alike with his charming display of old-world, 1950’s inspired silhouettes. As the man himself so eloquently put it, this was a time “when western fashion was being revolutionised and fashion shows had a sense of an intimate experience and luxury.”

Manish unveiled his newest collection titled ‘The Empress Story’ at an opulent offsite location with a select few from the Bollywood fraternity making a presence. Against a lavish backdrop featuring a beautiful ornate chandelier and luscious roses, models sashayed down the runway in a range of beautiful silhouettes in bespoke styles, cuts and vibrant colours.

Manish Malhotra - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Best known for his exquisitely crafted bridal wear, Manish’s dedication to his aesthetics are what has set him apart from other designers. This year he showcased intricately embellished festive gowns in rich textures and jewel-like tones. Each outfit was infused with Indian design sensibilities. The voluminous gowns, lehenga-choli’s and structured mens suits featured elaborate flora and fauna motif appliqués in delicate thread work and zardosi embroidery. The varied colour palette shifted from gorgeous jewel-like tones such as metallic silvers and golds, luscious burgundy’s, deep blues onto then the more subtle rose pinks, greys, blacks and coffee brown. Adding to the grandeur of the runway event, models wore handcrafted shoes and adorned masquerade masks designed by Nitya Arora of Valliyan

Making some what of a mini comeback to the runway scene, Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan looked ethereal as Manish’s showstopper. After a 5 year hiatus, Aishwarya oozed confidence dressed in a striking heavily embroidered burgundy coloured skirt, matching top and sparkling gold shrug.

“2015 is a very special year for me as it marks 25 years as a costume stylist/director and 10 years of my label ‘Manish Malhotra.’ What makes it even more special is Aishwarya returned to runway after five years as the showstopper for my show. She is a style icon. She is beautiful and stunning.” – Manish Malhotra 

Whilst many were swept away by Aishwarya’s presence and her wonderful ensemble, one of the most impressive pieces for us was the sensuous sleeveless deep red silhouette hand stitched with intricate shiny embroidery patterns. Understated elegance for the modern Indian bride, this gown would make for the perfect reception party wear. Menswear was just as classy, with the designer sharing a preview of his limited edition mens collection and for the first time revealing unique shoe wear.

As seen throughout Amazon India Couture Week, understated drama seemed to be one of the key recurring beauty trends with models wearing romantic, smokey eye looks, nude lips, contoured cheeks and shiny glossy hair. MAC‘s star makeup artist, Mickey Contractor added a new dimension to the traditional smokey eye look by teaming shimmery burgundy hues with thin eye liner and heavy mascara.

Manish Malhotra’s collection epitomises grace, mid-20th century splendour and royal opulence. These ensembles were a refreshing departure from his usual work, with the designer producing more restrained pieces that highlight and also celebrate the intricacies of traditional craftsmanship. He has proved once again why he is so popular with South Asian brides from all over the globe.

“2015 marks an important milestone as the ‘Manish Malhotra’ label celebrates 10 years and 25 years a costume director. ‘The Empress Story’ is a special collection as it not only ends the beautiful decade that was, but also represents the beginning of a new phase for the brand. It captures the excitement and thrill of taking the next step, while taking pride in its foundations. With ‘The Empress Story,’ I return to my love for timeless aesthetics and structure along with fine craftsmanship that has taken months to translate onto fabric. All the elements in the collection do speak a common, universal language of elegance and élan. Much like the power of femininity, these will never go out of style.” – Manish Malhotra

AICW15 - Manish Malhotra | The Maharani Diaries

What a fabulous finale to this week long celebration of refined Indian couture. Don’t forget to stay tuned to the blog for the best trends from India Bridal Fashion Week and Lakmé Fashion Week Autumn/Winter.

Full highlights from the final day of Amazon India Couture Week can be viewed here —> http://bit.ly/1R9slxb

What were your highlights from the final day of Amazon India Couture Week?

*Content and images courtesy of Vogue India, Amazon India, FDCIHarpers Bazaar India, Verve Magazine, Luxpresso, Indian Express and BoldSky.

Day 4 AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

All four designers took the vintage-glam route on Day 4 of Amazon India Couture Week. From the regal and luxurious, intricately embroidered bridal lehengas of Rimple and Harpreet to the alluring and graceful, structured silhouettes of Rohit Bal’s collection, it truly was an unforgettable day in the world of Indian couture.

REYNU TAANDON

Reynu Taandon’s collection titled Shahbanu’ was like something out of a story book. A royal affair showcasing classic, elegant and timeless outfits fit for a modern maharani. Persian architecture, heritage and culture have inspired quite a few designers at Couture Week this year and for Taandon this was no different. She wanted to pay homage to the grandeur and royalty of the Persian empress and this was magnificently reflected in her traditional ensembles.

Reynu Taandon AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries(Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)

The stage was set for an enthralling presentation. Against a glorious palace-like backdrop, the audience were transported to the Mughal era with the captivating sounds of live Sufi Qawwali music playing in the background. Taandon’s contemporary take on the ancient period narrated a beautiful tale with models depicted as royal princesses gracefully strutting down the runway showing off their breathtaking beauty. 

Richa Chadda - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

ACTRESS, RICHA CHADDA

Taandon’s creations featured fine gold zardosi threadwork, mirror work and floral motif embellishments intricately embroidered on rich georgette and velvet fabrics. Models sashayed down the runway dressed in sharara’s, anarkali’s and lehenga-choli designs in royal blues, reds and blacks and wearing statement jewellery pieces. Their overall looks were enhanced with beautiful and glamorous makeup and hair tied back in slick and sophisticated buns. 

Bollywood actress, Richa Chadda wowed the audience pulling off the Persian princess act with so much grace and poise. Dressed in a heavily embroidered red and gold lehenga and two sheer veils, she was also adorned with delicate jewels that included a maang tikka, jhumar, necklace and naath (nose ring). Richa looked resplendent in her regal avatar and this was definitely a signature moment of Reynu Taandon’s showcase.

“The Shahbanu muse is a dream-like vision straight out of the royal courtyard with mesmerising beauty reflecting through her accentuated eyes and statement jewellery. So I could only think of Richa when I conceptualised the show.” – Reynu Taandon

‘Shahbanu’ captured the grandeur, beauty and old-world charm of the Persian empire so well. All in all, Reynu Taandon presented a classy show. Her eye-catching collection is certainly befitting of the style conscious Indian bride who exudes modern elegance, and wants to look no less than royalty on her wedding day. 

RIMPLE & HARPREET NARULA

R&H AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Husband and wife team, Rimple and Harpreet Narula’s design aesthetic could be best summed up in three words; ‘elegant,’ ‘understated’ and ‘dramatic.’ The designer duo have an incredible ability to produce such diverse collections year after year and this year’s showing at Couture Week was no different, presenting well crafted silhouettes in an array of colours and textures. Inspired by the splendour and the magnificence of the Maharaja’s during the days of the British Raj, the designer’s weaved magic. ‘Maharadjah & Co’ was an amalgamation of design elements combining eastern and western aesthetics.

Set against a regal backdrop, they painted a story of royalty amidst western influences. A time when the classy maharaja’s and maharani’s would be highly respected amongst the European society and would hire photographers to capture all their glory with vintage cameras.

Rimple & Harpreet - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Rimple and Harpreet’s passion for diverse textiles and traditional craftsmanship is reflected in their use of various fabric textures and refined hand embroidery techniques. Heavily influenced by Islamic art, the designers created bespoke and sophisticated ensembles in muted undertones. Subtle shades of ivory and beige, burnished golds and velveteen ruby completed with intricate embroidery work and delicately cut Preciosa crystals.

We have been using Preciosa Crystal components in our creations for quite some time now and their quality standards are par excellence. Their range, when it comes to colors, shapes and cuts is truly amazing. To be associated with a world leader in crystals such as Preciosa is a proud moment for our label and we look forward to bringing the best in Couture and Crystals to our consumers“. – Rimple and Harpreet Narula 

The rich and ornate silhouettes, dramatic capes and robes, sheer billowy jackets, regal cloaks and classic lehenga’s were reminiscent of the majestic colonial era. Female models sported smokey eyes with bold lips and slick low buns and their looks were accentuated with exquisite Sunar jewels and statement accessories. The designer duo added vintage parasol umbrellas to appeal to the destination wedding market.

Ravishing Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty stunned as the showstopper, dressed in a gold and rose pink lehenga with a matching sequinned blouse. She stole the spotlight in the unique bridal ensemble and her overall look was enhanced (not that she needed it) with a heavy jadau necklace.

Rimple & Harpreet Narula - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

ACTRESS, SHILPA SHETTY

Shilpa’s sensuous number was one of many highlights of the show and a favourite amongst many fashion lovers.  Whilst perusing through the mens ensembles, we came across a charming sherwani suit that would complement Shilpa’s lehenga beautifully. 

Rimple and Harpreet’s stately collection is acceptable for the modern bride and groom who aren’t afraid to express themselves and love to make a statement. If you’re opting for a royal wedding theme with a palace-like or vintage backdrop, then these delicately embroidered lehenga-choli’s and sherwani suits are definitely for you.

DEBARUN MUKHERJEE

Debarun Mukherjee, an up and coming designer based in Kolkata, surprised everyone with his contemporary Bollywood inspired collection. Aptly titled, ‘Heroine’ his bridal-festive showcase took the audience on a beautiful journey of Indian cinema through the ages whilst also paying homage to the modern Indian woman.

Debarun - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries (Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)

A self-confessed film fanatic, Debarun presented an array of colourful and timeless silhouettes in various textures and shades and matched them perfectly to the different era’s. From the black and white of the 30s and 40s to the technicolour and shimmer of the 70s and 80s and the subtleness of the 90s, his collection was an honest and fitting representation of the fashionable Bollywood heroine.

“This is my first couture week and it has finally given me space to stretch my creativity to a point where I feel I have arrived. A couture collection is like one’s first love and cinema is my first love.” – Debarun

Amid vibrant, multi-coloured audio visual screen backdrops and mood lighting, models strutted down the runway to the sound of songs and dialogues from popular Hindi movies playing in the background. ‘Heroine’ comprised of well hand woven, rich and diverse ensembles in beautiful, contrasting colour combinations. The silhouettes were accentuated with intricate zardosi, bead and thread work and featuring appliqués in floral and ornate motifs.

Aditi Rao Hydari - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

ACTRESS, ADITI RAO HYDARI

Showstoppers Aditi Rao Hydari and Chitrangada Singh opened and closed Dabarun’s show respectively. Aditi looked demure in a grey silk flared lehenga and shimmery dupatta. Representing the coy and shy heroine of the yesteryears, her ensemble looked fitting for a cocktail soirée or pre-wedding event. Chitrangada’s beige bridal lehenga-choli looked divine, complemented well with a green net dupatta. The quintessential bride of Hindi cinema. Both actresses sported side-swept hairstyles, bright pop lips and subtle eye make up. 

It was rather difficult to highlight favourites from Debarun’s collection, but the red and beige floral lehenga that actress, Chitrangada Singh wore was a standout from the women’s line and as for the mens wear, the lightweight red and brownish sherwani suit teamed with mojari’s, exuded understated class. 

Debarun made a strong debut at Couture Week with his flamboyant collection. A wonderful retrospective, recreating iconic moments from famous Indian movies spanning over eight decades. He has created effortless ensembles perfect for the free-spirited and artistic modern brides and grooms out there.

ROHIT BAL

Wow, what can we say! Master couturier, Rohit Bal closed out day 4 of couture week in a spectacular fashion. Held at the exclusive 5 star luxury hotel, The Imperial, Bal weaved magic with his mens and women’s collection titled ‘Husn-e-Taa’iraat’ (translating to ‘beauty of a bird’), leaving the audience spellbound.

Rohit Bal - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Excitement and anticipation for this runway event had been building for quite some time. In the weeks leading up to Couture Week Bal teased his fans with glimpses of his collection via social media. One things for certain though, his presentation lived up to expectations and the audience were witnessing something special unfold right in front of their eyes. 

Bal’s runway shows are synonymous with entertainment having established a reputation for being more than just about the garmentsRohit Bal - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries itself. There was something different about this show though. Set amid a garden setting with fruit trees bearing apples and pomegranates and the melodious sounds of soft orchestral music playing in the background, he evoked all of the senses and made everyone feel enamoured. A gorgeous backdrop and the perfect ambience making for a memorable showcase.

Known in the past for producing exquisitely crafted bridal couture, Bal certainly turned it up a notch on this occasion blending renaissance fashion with Persian  influences as well as drawing inspiration from his Kashmiri heritage. What was  noticeably different about this collection were the references to Persian art and culture with ensembles featuring intricate zardosi and resham embroidery. ‘Husn-e-Taa’iraat’ captured the natural beauty of wildlife, birds and floral through every ensemble. The hand-woven bird-life and floral motif patterns marked precision and detail.

The colour palette was infused with vivid shades of whites, elegant golds, royal blues, blacks and deep maroon hues. There were voluminous lehenga skirts, badhgala suits, jodhpur pants, classic sherwani’s, graceful and illustrious angrakha’s (similar to an anarkali suit), oversized jackets and sumptuous sari’s in numerous cuts, styles and textures. From velvet to chanderi and net to even brocade, the designer once again produced refined bridal wear.

Models took to the runway oozing confidence and flaunting their glamour with dramatic smokey eye makeup, soft, glossy lips and hair done up in perfect buns. They wore statement fabric floral headbands and some even sported beautiful yet subtle clusters of these fabric roses as neckpieces.

Rohit Bal - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Adding to the grandeur of this magnificent show, models playfully flirted with guests, sitting on their laps, blowing kisses and toasting their master, Bal with champagne filled flutes. Everything complemented each other; the venue, the extravagant outfits, setting and theme. Bal’s clever use of imagery reflected the old-world Victorian and colonial charm of a bygone era.

The reception was incredible with applause and even whistles from the lucky audience. A visibly happy Bal couldn’t contain his excitement and once again broke out into one of his customary dance jigs.

India’s ultimate fashion showman, Rohit Bal continues to push boundaries, creating masterpieces, impressing fans and critics alike. The designer has effortlessly captured two cultures with so much finesse. Whilst critics will call this bridal wear somewhat unconventional, there’s no doubt these beautiful silhouettes will be a favourite amongst brides and grooms for the upcoming winter wedding season. Lavish, regal and opulent wedding wear. Make a statement on your wedding day with these eclectic ensembles. 

“Design needs to be without reason – spontaneous, whatever attracts you at the given moment and time. I could be inspired by Persia or Timbuktu, but I will eventually turn it into something Indian. That’s my main aim… a strong Indianness in everything I do. “ – Rohit Bal

The 60 piece collection featured some stunning pieces. It was difficult to pin point a favourite, but of course, being lovers of traditional maroon and red bridal wear we simply couldn’t take our eyes off of these two ensembles.

Relive highlights from Rimple & Harpreet and Rohit Bal’s shows here –> http://bit.ly/1NKh6N6

Next post —> A final wrap up of Couture Week featuring every girl’s dream designer, the inimitable Manish Malhotra.

What were your favourites from day 4 of Amazon India Couture Week?

*Content and images courtesy of Elevate Promotions,Vogue India, Amazon India, FDCIHarpers Bazaar India, Instagram, Verve Magazine IndiaIndian Express and BoldSky.

DAY 3 - AICW | The Maharani Diaries

As each day of Amazon India Couture Week progressed, the production scales of the sets became more lavish. Day 3 wasn’t just about the flamboyant ensembles, but equal emphasis was placed on translating the designer’s vision into the sets.

From Persian folklore to boho luxe to vintage glamour, Anju Modi, Monisha Jaising and Varun Bahl all presented spell-binding couture collections infused with modern and traditional design sensibilities.

ANJU MODI

First up was veteran designer, Anju Modi whose costumes can be seen in director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next magnum opus, “Bajirao Mastani” releasing later this year. Prior to her showcase, Modi spoke of the experience she had on the sets of “Bajirao Mastani” speaking highly of actress, Deepika Padukone and how she drew a lot of inspiration from her. She also spoke about how immersed she became in the colourful Persian culture and how she wanted to delve more deeply into researching about its influences on India. These influences are beautifully reflected in her collection which is an ode to Persian art, architecture and the philosophies of respected poet, Rumi.

“Since it is an ancient civilization, it has got a lot of heritage, tradition, great art work, architecture and mughal motifs, which are slightly different from our usual Rajasthani and Gujarati designs. All this mixed with the India ethos has given me ideas to make it a contemporary line.” – Anju Modi

Her collection, aptly titled ‘Kashish’ (meaning “attraction” in Urdu), conjured up images of the Persian princess pining for her loved one. The enchanting royal courtyard captured the regality and opulence that is associated with the Islamic heritage with princes and princesses adorned with turbans and embroidered veils. It was like being in the presence of royalty.

Known for her respect of India’s design legacies, Modi has cleverly fused Persian influences with Indian design sensibilities. Her design aesthetics are a true testament to India’s rich textile heritage and this is evident through each garment with the use of intricately embroidered Mughal motifs hand woven on rich textured fabrics such as chanderi, dupion, khadi, organza, velvet and georgette.

Anju Modi - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

In a beautiful intimate setting with romantic mood lighting, Modi presented an array of voluminous lehenga-choli’s, sharara’s, anarkali’s, multiple dupatta’s and classic sherwani and pyjama suits in gorgeous hues. There were pinks, reds, blues, yellows and teal as well as soft and subtle pastel shades.

Models wore romantic make up and hair looks with minimal eyeshadow, red lips and soft hair-dos adorned with delicate fresh flowers. 

A number of pieces stood out, but it was difficult to go past the rani pink and mint green bridal lehenga layered with two dupatta’s and accentuated with delicate accessories. As for the menswear, the classic red and beige sherwani suit shone amongst the lot, accessorized with a matching printed turban. 

‘Kashish’ exuded modern regal romance and elegance. Contemporary in appearance with subtle hints of regal undertones, these timeless ensembles are for the modern bride or groom who isn’t afraid to make a royal-like statement at their wedding. The juxtaposition of the contrasting colours add further appeal to those who love the idea of mixing and matching separates.

MONISHA JAISING

Marking 25 successful years in the industry, eminent fashion designer, Monisha Jaising presented an ambitious collection titled, ‘The Sailing Bride’ featuring a melange of luxury sportswear, resort and evening wear as well as some alternative bridal wear.

Monisha Jaising - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

A relative newcomer to the world of bridal fashion, Monisha’s ensembles take a dramatic turn from the traditional wedding attire to showcase more modern, unconventional and eclectic bridal wear fit for the adventurous bride, more commonly today as the ‘boho bride.’ Relaxed, frugal, yet artistic in nature and one who does not compromise on luxury or comfort.

Monisha took her audience to the sea with nautical themed sets. A luxury private yacht full of sun kissed models and chiseled male crew men.

The show featured the likes of popular fashion icon and designer, Pernia Qureshi (who will also be making her Bollywood debut soon) and actress, Kriti Sanon. ‘The Sailing Bride’ encompasses a broad range of well crafted Indian bridal wear featuring lehenga-choli’s, draped sari’s, tailored jackets and pants and cocktail gowns in a variety of playful and sophisticated colours. The ensembles were stitched in unique surface textures such as luxe silk jersey material as well as organza, georgette, soft chiffon, velvet, cotton, fur, tweed, leather and neoprene.

AICW15 Monisha Jaising | The Maharani Diaries

Pernia Qureshi surprised the audience, opening the runway show, dressed in an ice blue, woolen off-the-shoulder gown embellished with delicate mirror embroidered patterns. The showstopper of the night arrived with Bollywood actress, Kriti Sanon strutting down the runway flaunting an incredible grey, sporty-like lehenga featuring panels adorned with traditional zardosi embroidered elements paired with a ribbed tank top, contrasting red dupatta, heavy jewels and embellished Converse sneakers. Representing the runaway bride, Kriti also sported rebellious yet tasteful tattoos.

Makeup and hair looks were fresh with soft-tousled hair and matte finished lips in stunning dark red brick shades.

“The collection caters to the cool laid-back bride who wants to look luxurious on her special day yet prefers practical and fuss-free ensembles. We have constructed silhouettes which are easy to handle, as well as chic and trendy. There is no hassle of draping and pleating, making it a perfect choice for a wedding on a yacht.” – Monisha Jaising

Monisha Jaising AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

ACTRESS, KRITI SANON

Kriti Sanon was undoubtedly the standout of the night dressed in that bespoke jersey lehenga complemented with the statement sneakers. 

Resort wear has always been Monisha’s forte, but ‘The Sailing Bride’ has definitely added a new dimension to the term ‘modern Indian bride.’ A new era in bridal fashion wear, where haute couture meets hippie glamour.

Fresh, youthful, contemporary and edgy, today’s young and ambitious bride and her entourage want to be able to have the freedom to express themselves.  These effortless and chic ensembles will no doubt redefine luxury for Indian women.

VARUN BAHL

Glistening and ornate chandeliers, floral canopies descending from the ceiling, vine creepers and a runway lined ever so delicately with gorgeous red roses. The stage was set for a grand affair. Perhaps a lavish, high profile wedding? That indeed it was. Well, a teaser of some sort I suppose. It was the perfect platform and launching pad for Varun Bahl’s foray into the luxury world of wedding design.

Aside from the wedding venture though, designer, Varun Bahl’s ensembles identify with fashionista’s who love understated luxury. Opulent and extravagant in nature, his couture ensembles also strike a chord with lovers of romance.

Varun Bahl - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Bahl has a penchant for florals. His collection aptly titled, ‘Song Of The Flower’ embraces age old, vintage handloom weaving techniques with garments well-crafted and intertwined with French inspired floral prints and patterns accentuated through every outfit. Pretty floral motifs were delicately woven on classic lehenga’s, sari’s, anarkali’s, blazers, wide legged pant suits, sleek sherwani suits, modern dhotis and flamboyant kurta pyjama suits.

The talented designer produced classic and vintage tailored couture exquisitely handcrafted with high quality fabrics such as tulle, georgette, plush velvets, satin and raw silks. The colour palette is infused with shades of romantic and sensual colours like ivory, pale pinks, rose reds as well as the more traditional and bold hues such as black and burgundy.

Varun Bahl - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Varun Bahl - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Varun’s silhouettes were reminiscent of the 18th century where fine lace detailing was used extensively to enhance the dress wear of men and women. The designer has cleverly drawn on European and Indian art forms to create magnificent ensembles. A beautiful representation of Varun’s design sensibilities and an ode to the modern bride or groom who lives for the moment and embraces beauty and romance.

“Couture is about the bespoke experience, both in make as well as concept.. Every piece of couture is like a work of art, created with great attention to detail with intricate handwork done on it.” – Varun Bahl

Varun Bahl - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

On the night, female models wore soft, understated romantic looks with nude makeup, elegant side buns, adorned with intricate and delicate silver and gold accessories.

The standout piece for us was the floral bridal lehenga which was beautifully complemented and balanced with a sheer net dupatta and slim high-waisted gold belt. As for the menswear, you simply couldn’t go past the slick and sophisticated black kurta pyjama suit featuring a red sequin embellished shawl.

Varun Bahl’s flamboyant ensembles will no doubt be popular amongst bride and grooms for the forthcoming wedding season.

Full highlights from DAY 3 can be viewed here —> http://bit.ly/1K5v1q7

What were your favourites from day 3 of Amazon India Couture Week?

*Content and images courtesy of Vogue India, Amazon India, FDCI, Amlan Paliwal/IANS, Harpers Bazaar India, Instagram, Indian Express and BoldSky.

 

DAY 2 AICW2015 - Mishra:Gupta

DAY 2 was all about generation next featuring stunning collections from International Woolmark Prize winner, Rahul Mishra and trend-setting couturier, Gaurav Gupta.

RAHUL MISHRA

We’re convinced that Rahul Mishra’s ‘Tree Of Life’ collection is one of the finest to come out of India Couture Week. Yes, it’s a big call and we weren’t there to see it in person, however after reading through several of his interviews in the past few days, we are incredibly awe-struck by his humble nature and his incredible ability to effortlessly fuse traditional Indian fabrics with modern, western aesthetics.

Originally from the Indian village of Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh), Mishra has reached great heights with recent presentations at Paris and Milan Fashion Week, earning him respect amongst the fashion elite around the world.

Mishra’s inspiration for ‘Tree Of Life’ was the fuss-free, multitasking woman. A woman who exudes strength and courage with a hint of fragility.

Rahul Mishra - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

His inspiration was clearly reflective on the simple backdrop. Stage settings and props were kept to a bare minimum so as to not detract attention from the beauty and elegance of the ensembles. 

Rahul Mishra - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

Mishra hasn’t forgotten his roots though with elements of age-old handloom weave techniques highlighted beautifully in every silhouette. A tribute to the village artisans with nature-like motifs such as florals, stems and parrot detailing seen through structured lehengas, anarkalis, pant suits and gowns.

“Everything we do is by hand, it brings what I like to call an imperfection – in the sense that it’s like when you write a signature and you can’t repeat it exactly the same twice. It’s an imperfect beauty.” – Rahul Mishra

The sustainable collection had a monochromatic feel with soft whites and golds with a few pops of jewel-toned colours such as deep purples, blacks and golds. There were embroidered bomber jackets, sheer silk tailored capes, sheer overcoats, flowy voluminous skirts and and sophisticated gowns. The detail and craftsmanship were impeccable with ensembles featuring stunning fabric textures such as silk organza, metallic gold kasab work and resham embroidery threading. 

Much like the sets, hair and makeup looks were demure with dewy tones, lightly glossed lips and models’ hair was slick and combed back for maximum impact.

Rahul Mishra’s collection is versatile and lightweight, suited for the care-free and modern bride who isn’t afraid to mix and match. The clever use of separates mean that they can even be worn after the wedding. Adaptable, comfortable, minimalist yet charming and stylish bridal wear.

Rahul Mishra - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

The highlight of the collection was the gorgeous gold lehenga choli featuring the must-have wardrobe staple of today, a cape. Refreshing and ethereal, Mishra’s addition of a cape is certainly eye-catching and could well possibly become a wardrobe essential in the new-age bride’s closet. 

GAURAV GUPTA

Gaurav Gupta’s unique and trend-setting ensembles have earned him many accolades over the years and his collection at this year’s couture week is without a doubt bound for more praise.

Gaurav Gupta - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

The enchanted forest-like set conjured up a fantasy realm full of bronze-toned angelic, mythological goddesses with gold hair.

‘Silt and Cipher’ is an ambitious collection featuring dramatic statement silhouettes in subtle greys, dusty creams, soft pinks, ivory and champagne colours with a hint of autumn-like colours such as navy and burgundy.

Gupta is a master of innovative couture. In a recent interview, he stated that his inspiration is a “constant process” and that “monotony bores” him. He consistently re-invents his design style, producing contemporary Indian couture that has broad appeal in the east and west.

“For me if everyone is wearing the same thing it’s so boring, and when I came back to India I couldn’t do what was already being or had been done in Indian wear. It made no sense. I feel sometimes it’s almost as if I was a pioneer in global contemporary Indian couture. I like unusual shapes and I like things which are beautiful.” – Gaurav Gupta

Gaurav Gupta - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

He created luxurious and sophisticated body-con silhouettes showcasing sari gowns, overcoats, jacket lehengas, peplum cholis, mermaid skirts and pant suits most of which were infused with intricate zardosi threadwork. The showstopper on the night was Kalki Koechlin who waltzed down the ramp in an elegantly structured muted salmon pink gown with wide pleats.

Gupta collaborated with bespoke Indian jewellery label, ‘Outhouse’ which provided the models with exquisite metallic ear cuffs and headpieces.

Hair and makeup extraordinaire, Mickey Contractor gave the models sculpted and mystical looks using none other than MAC Cosmetics. Cheekbones were contoured, eyelids were glittery and the hair was spray painted, slick and tied back. 

The collection stayed to true to Gupta’s tendencies to go beyond convention. Shades of extravagance and sensuality. Gorgeous wedding reception wear perfect for the bride who wants to make a statement. Provocative yet tasteful. 

Gaurav Gupta - AICW15 | The Maharani Diaries

ACTRESS, KALKI KOECHLIN

The showstopper of the night for us was Kalki Koechlin’s stunning salmon pink, one-shouldered gown.

For Australian readers, please note that you have the opportunity of seeing Gaurav’s stunning ensembles on the runway at the Indian Film Festival, Melbourne Awards Night and Equality Fashion Show being held at the National Gallery of Victoria on Saturday, August 15th 2015. For further information on this exclusive event visit http://www.iffm.com.au/.

Full highlights from DAY 2 can be viewed here –> http://bit.ly/1Il0LHG

What were your favourites from day 2 of Amazon India Couture Week?

*Content and images courtesy of Vogue India, Amazon India, FDCI, Amlan Paliwal/IANS, Harpers Bazaar India and Instagram.