A few weeks back I was fortunate to have attended one of the biggest South Asian bridal fashion events in the northern hemisphere. Aashni + Co presented their second wedding exhibit showcasing the work of India’s most illustrious designers as well as eminent Pakistani designer, Faraz Manan.
Since its inception in 2012, Aashni + Co has fast become the one stop shop for luxury and tailor made Asian bridal fashion, meaning brides no longer need to make a trip to India.
Now in it’s second year running, the Aashni + Co Wedding Show has proved once again that there is without a doubt a demand for high-end bridal couture in the UK. Brides and grooms have the chance to purchase their entire trousseau with first hand assistance from the designer themselves.
On speaking about the success of the show, founder and creative director of Aashni + Co boutique, Aashni Anshul Doshi (Shah) expressed her utter delight officially announcing that it was a “tremendous success.”
“We were conscious that we needed to surpass the high benchmark we established with the event in its debut year, 2015. I feel we’ve achieved that based on the response from the designers and visitors here today unanimously. We’ve brought a studied curation of luxe, South Asian couture and bridal wear to the UK’s doorstep, meaning brides and grooms to be and followers of Indian high fashion have been able to meet the designers themselves and shop entire bridal trousseaus or one-off pieces against a fittingly couture backdrop.” – Aashni Anshul Doshi (Shah)
Held at luxury 5 star hotel, The Dorchester, this year’s event drew in large crowds and featured exquisite designer wear from the likes of Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Malhotra and Varun Bahl. Brides, together with their entourage were flocking to the stands throughout the entire day, picking up gorgeous one off lehengas, saris, gowns and the list goes on.
Upon entering the ballroom, The Dorchester’s Gold Room was transformed into enchanting woodlands with visitors taken on a journey through a magical forest filled with fresh blooms, berries, rustic bouquets and sparkling emeralds and rubies gracing the pathways. We were greeted with the harmonious tunes of birds chirping amidst almost bare trees and surrounded by beautiful couture from Faraz Manan, Manish Malhotra, Rimple and Harpreet Narula, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Varun Bahl.
As per last year, award winning floral artist, Zita Elze wowed with her creative design concept. The spectacular display left everybody in absolute awe including myself.
Aashni and Zita have collaborated on a number of projects now and have developed a wonderful creative dialogue.
Amazed by her floral mastery, I asked the gifted florist to give us a few thoughts about how the theme was conceptualized.
“Aashni gave me just a few words for the brief and I was very happy to interpret these into a narrative for the Gold Room at The Dorchester. The starting point was in her shop, with some of the beautiful dresses, picking out jewel colours. This combined with Aashni’s dreams of trees and birds brought about the design. I work instinctively so many of the finishing touches were decided on the day, although everything else was planned in great detail as we only had a few hours to create the whole room. The short lived ethereal nature of these creations is part of their magic – the show lasted just one day.” – Zita Elze
Amongst the designers I had the opportunity to chat with celebrated designers, Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The two inimitable designers who have a strong connection with London shared fond memories of working and studying in the fashion capital, often referring to it in conversation as their second home.
I asked Manish about how he thinks the UK bride and differs to the brides in India.
“I feel in the past brides from the UK were not that aware and for those who didn’t travel they didn’t know that India is changing so much. But today thanks to social media, now they are aware and they know what’s going on. Events like these, where the originals come to you is a step forward. I think all Indian and Pakistani designers should take that step and go to different countries to make brides aware of what’s available.” – Manish Malhotra
Manish needs no introduction of course. Renowned for creating iconic outfits for Bollywood stars and beyond, this designer leaves no stone unturned when it comes to bridal wear. When questioned about replicas Manish expressed concern and went on further to say that through Aashni + Co, his work remains credible and international audiences can recognize the difference.
When one thinks of glamorous bridal couture and weddings, no other name springs to mind but Sabyasachi. I just couldn’t resist, but I had to ask the designer about how he feels the Indian wedding market is changing.
“Indian weddings are going everywhere. It’s almost become like the visiting card of India because Indian weddings talk about everything that’s beautiful in India. It talks about clothing, food, music, jewellery, textile culture etc. So basically if you want to know about India in that event, then the best way is to get invited to an Indian wedding. Indian weddings by themselves have become the cultural brand ambassador of the country.” – Sabyasachi Mukherjee
What attracts many brides to Sabyasachi’s couture is his incredible knack of being able to fuse modern with traditional aesthetics. The designer is a purist and this sentiment is echoed in a number of his interviews. Once again he reinforced this theme with his latest collection and it was such a treat for me to see his beautiful couture in person.
I also had a brief conversation with Anamika Khanna about how instrumental she has been in re-inventing the way the humble sari is draped in today’s times and what her thoughts are on why it has been appreciated so well amongst brides and fashion bloggers alike.
“I feel that the younger generation has stopped wearing saris completely. I was thinking one day.. without killing the elegance or essence of the sari, what can you do with it that it becomes more modern? That’s where I started and then I moved on and realised there’s a lot of potential. It’s not just for Indian girls. You can get away with it by not wearing a gown or a dress. Indian women can not wear gowns or dresses as well because our bodies are different.” – Anamika Khanna
The designers were thrilled with the response of the event and here are just a few of their thoughts.
“Aashni’s show is terrific. She always manages to get an avalanche of people in. It was exhausting but it was very well organised and I think she has become the most important interface between Indian designers and NRI brides who don’t normally get to meet the designers face to face.” – Sabyasachi Mukherjee
“What a fabulous platform to show wedding clothes. Aashni has done a fantastic job and it’s well organised with lovely girls coming in to try on our clothes and making me feel so proud.” – Anju Modi
“It’s such a pleasure to be at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show. I am really enjoying it. It’s spectacular, it’s beautifully put together, it’s curated, the space is beautiful, and all the designers are here. The amount of people that were here today is overwhelming. Well done Aashni.” – Anamika Khanna
“The crowd here is great today. London loves to take risks in fashion, which is great for me. And what an incredible event. Aashni has done a wonderful job in putting this all together.” – Gaurav Gupta
“We’ve pretty much sold out in the first two hours, which is great, so I hope to be back next year and I hope that there are a lot more exhibitions like this from Aashni. She has a great eye for picking out the best talent from India and featuring a great mix of designers.” – Masaba Gupta
In terms of organization, the designer’s booths were very well displayed and it was incredible to see the amount of intricacy and detailing in every single gown or lehenga for that matter. Chatting with some of the bloggers, it was like as if we were in bridal heaven! A sea of elegant, bespoke, handcrafted wedding wear displayed ever so beautifully in one of the most luxurious event spaces.
Elegant and Wild Wedding Photography set up a vibrant Indian themed photo booth featuring handmade paper flowers and gold bicycle, encouraging patrons to let their hair down during the event. Even the models and bloggers got in on the fun!
From left: Vic from London Ki Ladki, Mandavi from The Red Notebook, Nazma from Asian Fashion Blog, Rabbia from Asian Wedding Ideas, Poonam from The Maharani Diaries, Safeera from Habibi Lifestyle and Arti from My Asian Wardrobe. Image courtesy of Elegant & Wild Wedding Photography.
What sets this bridal exhibition apart from others is the fact that you have a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the designers. Each designer has something different to offer and it’s so great to see so much depth and diversity in the collections.
The event featured work from established fashion houses to more up and coming, new-generation talent.
It certainly exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait for the 2017 show!
To get a true sense of what the event was like, check out the official film –>
Aashni + Co is a luxury multi-designer boutique situated in Notting Hill. Ever since it’s inception in 2012, Aashni + Co has carved a niche for itself as one of London’s most sought after destinations for luxury Indian fashion, garnering attention from fashionistas and celebrities in the UK and Continental Europe alike. For further information, visit http://aashniandco.com/.
Did you attend this year’s Aashni + Co Wedding Show? Would love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments below.