Fashion

Bikinis, beaches and the big fat Indian wedding

The designers were in the city to display their collection at the exhibition hosted by ShriVyshnavi Annush, founder and director of Pookari.com.  

They have proved swimming can be a stylish business and there is nothing wrong in dressing up for the pool. Why should fashion only be for special occasions and wedding wear, ask designers Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja. “We have a long history of water-based recreational sports. The Mughal paintings show that the concept of public bathing is intrinsic to our culture. So, why don’t we make it modern and twenty-first century?” asks Narresh.

Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh, ex-students of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NEFT), New Delhi, made a mark in the international fashion industry when they launched their swimwear line at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2012. The line was Western, but, it carried definite traces of Indian roots. However, back in India, swimwear was still considered a niche category. But, Narresh and Shivan made sure the garments catered to the Indian woman’s body structure. “Swimwear is an intimate clothing category and, like lingerie, involves her being comfortable in her skin. The Indian fashion industry, hardly addressed the comfort of the woman. That is where our philosophy is different,” says Narresh.

In the last 50 years, Indian women have been forced to fit into the standard American/ European sizing chart, which does not really work for them, says Narresh. “So, we have come out with measurements catering to the Indian body size. Our women have fuller hips, bigger busts and smaller torsos. They are effortlessly feminine. We have seen women in the West splurging money on expensive surgeries to look curvaceous. The Indian woman is naturally blessed. It is just that they hide behind so many layers.”

But why swimwear, if it was such a dicey area? “Because it wasmost minimalist and the smartest garment to work on, when we were in college. And before we knew it, we were selected for an international swim wear competition,” recalls Shivan. Soon they moved to Italy for higher studies. “It was an excellent experience as they hone your skills in every aspect – right from the cut and fitting to the quality of the material and its UV rays protection features,” Narresh chips in.

Their label demands their clients embrace their body type. “Women want to look fashionable on their honeymoon and holidays by the beach side. But, they come with a baggage of body issues. Unfortunately, Indian fashion industry has left many of these questions unanswered,” says Narresh.

The average bikini transforms into the most versatile garment in their latest Destination Wedding collection that includes jewelled flip flops and neoprene lehengas. The bikini top can double up as a sensuous blouse when teamed with a funky resort sari. The collection, marries the chic halter-necks and Italian jerseys with cocktail gowns, skirt tops and saris. “These are ideal for those beach-side weddings and honeymoons, and at the same time make you feel culturally correct and modest. The designs focus on the cuts rather than burdening the garment with volumes of fabric. With the bikini saris, we have merged the idea of the Western and Indian silhouettes,” says Narresh.

Many women are still uncomfortable with plunging necklines and figure-hugging gowns. A lot of times, it is the fitting that matters, says Narresh. “We do not make it any less festive. We love using bright and bridal colours. Colour-blocking helps to shift the focus from your plumper body parts. If you are busty, we will use darker colours around your chest and brighter colours on your slimmer body parts.”

With these breezy bridal wears, Narresh and Shivan are tapping into an emerging market of young people who fancy destinations weddings at exotic foreign countries and beach sides. “Minimalism is key idea because destination wedding involves travel. It is functional and grand at the same time. Women usually have to lug around the silk and cotton saris, and keep them ironed for weddings. But, these are tailor-made for the modern woman. Some of them come with mobile pockets and are ready-to-wear. It helps the woman feel rooted and stylish at the same time. The idea is to make the modern Indian bride feel comfortable.” So what is a dream wedding according to Shivan and Narresh? “I want a grand one. The big fat Indian wedding,” laughs Shivan. Narresh prefers a beach wedding with an intimate crowd in a cruise; minimal and impactful at the same time, just like their fashion philosophy.

The designers were in the city to display their collection at the exhibition hosted by ShriVyshnavi Annush, founder and director of Pookari.com.


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Printable version | Jul 22, 2021 10:02:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fashion/shivan-bhatiya-and-narresh-kukreja-on-destination-wedding-collection/article7986747.ece

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