Florals, Florence, and flounce, these aptly describe what the duo from Ahmedabad, Shyamal and Bhumika bring to the wedding table.
By Asmita Aggarwal
India is a country with varied influences on clothing since historical times and couture has been constantly evolving. For Ahmedabad-based Shyamal and Bhumika it is all about narrating handcrafted stories with surface ornamentation designed keeping a particular muse in mind and for a special occasion, “meant to convey an emotion”. “Indian couture to me is a carefully made garment using hundreds of skilled hands and multiple processes from different regions of the subcontinent. It could be ornate and yet very functional,” says Shyamal.
Every brand hopes to move forward and the duo, who has dabbled with architecture, interiors, home lines, and bags are now exploring perfumes and jewellery. “We have done collaborations in the past as well; you will see a big push in this direction in the coming months. For perfumes, we have been exploring fragrances with a perfumer in France, but it’s going to take time as we want our fragrances to be organic and India-inspired,” he adds.
Interestingly, what the husband-wife team focuses on is using age-old techniques with a modern aesthetic that the global Indian woman of today can identify with. Their signature remains ultra-feminine painterly florals embroidered by hand, delicate cutwork edges on hems, intricately embroidered zari threads on organic wild silks and Indian silhouettes with a contemporary flavour. “Couture to us is a vehicle to take the beautiful crafts of our country to the world, while giving employment to thousands along the way, safeguarding sacred techniques and reviving interest in what is precious,” he adds.
The aware bride knows what she wants. She is resourceful, has global exposure due to social media and research. She is confident and values her roots immensely, regardless of where she lives in the world. Young brides appreciate crafts done by hand and want to create an identity interwoven in their roots. That’s what made the delicious Bareilly Ki Barfi, Kriti Sanon, the ideal show stopper for them.
“This year, we see a lot of brides going for unique colour mixes in threads, fresh colours woven on raw/wild silks, unconventional contrasts and a romance-inspired modern aesthetic with traditional colours. Foliage greens, navy blues, vintage-y olive, pale sky, deep magentas, intense reds and old rose, is a palette you saw in our collection,” he explains.
In terms of silhouette, the millennial bride wants comfort while flaunting her look for a few hours— classic kalidaar lehengas, structured jackets, shararas, kalidaar saris, asymmetric hems, signature cowl gowns and trailing kurtas always work well. “We have added peplum jackets over lehengas, off shoulder blouses and such fun silhouettes which are also trendy,” he explains.
This time around they have played with embroidery threads to create unique motifs that draw inspiration from ceiling frescoes, architectural facades, beautiful florals from 15thcentury paintings, vintage European tapestry, mogul florals, decorative pillars and inlay samples in museums. A mix of materials, silk threads, zari, velvet appliqués, crystal accents, tulle, quilted textures, layered embroideries, sequins and other surface ornamentations have been used to create interesting textures.
Showcasing a line called “Renaissance Muse”, which has been given several interpretations over the years by style gurus Shyamal insists his take is revelatory. “If you are looking for Renaissance inspiration, Florence and Rome are like open museums. Mesmerising architecture, sculpture, the enamel work, elaborately carved pillars, exquisite floral paintings in museums, the gorgeous fountains, passion for their craft and history all had a lasting impact on us. When you combine renaissance inspirations with an Indian collection the results are always different,” he adds.
With customisations being key Shyamal believes having a store in DLF Emporio it’s easy for them to call in jewellery from neighbouring jewellers based on what outfit the bride has chosen. “We customise the cultural requirements of the bride while playing within the general design of our outfit they like. We recommend changes in cut and colour depending on the setting of the wedding as well. We suggest trains, veils, and drapes depending on how we want to enhance the brides overall look. Possibilities of customisations in outfits vary widely in terms of fabrics, embroideries, colours and with enough time on hand an ensemble can be made to measure to the bride’s dream while playing within our design philosophy and theme,” he explains.
When the world is witnessing a seismic shift and moving to easier clothing, Shyamal says, couture is the future! People will crave for the unique and precious in this world of mass production. However, with many innovations joining hands with historic crafts techniques one will see a lot of change in couture dressing as we move into the 2020’s, he predicts. “The coming generations are more aware, know what they want and identify their style. They aspire to look different from the crowd and day couture or evening couture is the perfect way to express yourself,” he says.
Their label does offer diffusion looks for evening wear as well as India-inspired pret lines from season-to-season. So making affordable clothing is not a challenge, but the toughest task they face is to keep the new generations of artisans interested in their family crafts.
With the rise in destination weddings, the wedding party has the closest of friends and family and gives the bride and her family a chance to explore varied choices depending on the location and setting. The cuts, colours, details and surface ornamentation is chosen depending on whether the wedding is in a palace in Rajasthan, a beach in the Maldives, a vineyard in France or in the hills in New Zealand. “This is exciting for us as the diversity of ideas we get to work with is a welcome change. For destination weddings, the brides need ensembles that are lightweight, easy to carry and maintain,” he concludes.