This season, your dressy Indian wear doesn’t have to make you sweat buckets

Summer’s here, and while you would like to dress light, lounging around in linens and cottons, those wedding, cocktail and festival invitations don’t stop. The heavily embroidered, cumbersome saris and lehengas in your wardrobe look all wrong though, suffocating and uncomfortable in their bulk. Indian designers have begun to recognise the growing demand for dressy but comfortable ethnic Indian wear, and M Couture, a multi-designer store just over a month old, has brought together some young and upcoming names in fashion, along with established professionals, who have already carved a niche for themselves, to showcase their fresh take Indian ethnic wear. Shubhangini Singh, Bhaavya Bhatnagar and Sonal Kalra Ahuja, with their collections displayed in store, share their views on the changing trends in Indian wear and their personal inspirations for the Spring/Summer collection 2014.

On their individual collections

Shubhangini: My work has been inspired by all the colours that you see around yourself. It’s in the celebration mode. Also the thing is that because its spring summer and summer, I don’t want the fabrics to be too heavy. So the only way to make it rich and really pop out is through colours. I want to patronise handwork, because I think this is a country where we have the pleasure of so much talent and dexterity. While machine embroidery is good, sometimes it lacks the softness and precision of hand embroidery. And of course, certain movements are always easier with hand. In one of my saris for M Couture, I have used light fabric, and simple taari work done by hand. While the sari is simple, it the delicate, precise motif work makes it immediately dressy. I think we are so used to seeing handwork in India, we don’t appreciate it as much as we should.

Bhaavya: For M Couture I did more of what was a capsule of Indian wear. There were Anarkalis in two warm pastel colours, and then red, a colour I feel you can wear all year round. There was also a jumpsuit, with an zardozi embroidered bodice and plain silk pants. That got sold on the first day.

Sonal: Inspired by the romantic hues of summer, the collection is called Le Jardin. The collection embodies the elegant subtlety and minimalism of a summer bride. The colour palette is candy coated pastels and garden hues, rich zardozi embroideries and textured lace.

On summer-friendly fabrics

Shubhangini: It has to be light in weight, but it still has to be effective. I’ve made sure that there isn’t any bulk to the clothes, but they still look dressy because of the colours used. The fabric makes the clothes comfortable, not overwhelming. My saris are mostly leheriya colours, really soft, in muted pastels. But in India, for the festivities you need the clothes to be bright and colourful.

Bhaavya: I mostly used chiffon and georgette. For drape pieces, we use chiffon, satin etc. In summer chiffon works better.

Sonal: I’ve used georgettes and net for the soft flowyness of sSummer.

On designing Indian wear

Shubhangini: This collection is especially designed for M Couture. But I do this style, this look and this combination otherwise too. Customised bridals are my forte, but when you design for a store, it becomes more about what appeals to a person on the rack. It should attract you to pull it out. The fits and way the necklines are cut come later. The designs also have to be in a style that will suit and flatter a bigger range of people. The collection has lehengas for wedding festivities, but the saris are ones you can wear for cocktails, dinner parties, etc.

Bhaavya: I wouldn’t say this collection is complete. It has very few pieces. It is like my initial stage in doing Indian clothes. I do mostly evening wear and jackets otherwise. Working with traditional anarkalis was a challenge to begin with. And I have learned as I’ve worked with it. I can do much better work now and incorporate contemporary styles.

The sensibilites are different while designing Indian wear, and the possibilities endless.