Apart from the subtlety that pastels carried at the wedding of Athiya Shetty and Kiara Advani, they were woven as a medium to convey the deep-rooted tales of traditional values and craftsmanship
Designed with classic Chikankari techniques from the geo-tagged region of Awadh, the lehenga was created over a span of 18 months by a group of 12 women. Photo Courtesy: Anjul Bhandari
The rise of pastels has left a couture-sized void for shades that were once sworn for wedding ensembles. Reds and burgundies have been folded, packed in trunks, and pushed back at the farther end of the wardrobe. Now emerging is an army of brides who prefers to don muted elegance over brash shades for a failsafe experience.
Joining the pastel gang are the newly minted brides, the Indian actresses Kiara Advani and Athiya Shetty. What stood out at the big fat Indian weddings were the regal shades of pastels that gleamed modestly under the morning sun. Apart from the subtlety that the pastels adorned, they were woven as a medium to convey tales that are deeply rooted in traditional values and craft. Kiara’s pastel rose lehenga had intricate embroidery that was inspired by her love for the city of Rome.
Kiara Advani in her rose pastel lehenga on her D-day. Photo courtesy: Kiara Advani's Official Instagram
Athiya’s lehenga was another masterpiece that narrated a tale of familial bonds and craftsmanship. Midday Online spoke to Anjul Bhandari, the designer behind Athiya’s Mehendi and Sangeet outfits that were centered around pastels. Anjul reveals that when she sat down with Athiya to brainstorm, the first thing Athiya requested was an outfit that will complement her grandmother’s heirloom jewellery.
Firozi or turquoise blue was the shade of her nani’s chaandbaaliyan, and every detail of her outfit was finalised keeping that shade in mind. Anjul found Athiya to be very craft-driven and opposed to draping anything quick and quirky. Even the embellishments were requested to be of unpresuming nature.
Anjul Bhandari, the Delhi-based couture designer who works with craftsmen of Chikankari and Mukaish from the Awadh region
“Athiya is very soft yet sharp. She was clear that the craft should be the most conspicuous aspect of her Mehendi ensemble”, shares Anjul. The cue from Athiya turned into what followed an 18-month-long journey to create one of the finest and most delicate Chikankari lehengas the world has ever seen. The resultant was a wholesome hand-embroidered needlework that was crafted with a labor of love.
The shade of the lehenga was a custom yellow that could not be pulled out of a contour or a shade card. Colour experts devised the shade from a twenty-shade swatch and dyed the fabric to achieve the exact tint for the mehendi outfit. Anjul describes the shade as an ‘intersection of ordinary yellow tending towards a sunflower yellow’.
Athiya's mehendi outfit was feather-light despite being studded with 39K Swarovski crystals
Quite contrary to the traditional lehengas that weigh a ton, Athiya’s lehenga was feather-light. This was actuated with the lightweight tonal Swarovski embellishments that had to be sourced from Austria to complement the yellow color. The 39,000 crystals were stitched to the entire garb to preserve the beauty of Chikan work. What emerged was a couture piece that retained the bling along with a floaty experience of wearing it.
The finer details of the lehenga had another tale to tell. The needlework was produced by ten girls from the original land of Chikankari, that is Awadh. The artisans sat on the piece for almost 18 months in Hardoi to weave Athiya’s dream project into reality. To complete the look, Anjul designed two Chikan duppattas: one based on ‘Jaal’ work and the second on border work.
Chikankari imprints in the making of Athiya's mehendi outfit
Moving on to the sangeet ceremony, Athiya donned an ivory pant-suit outfit that was again based on Chikankari work. Keeping the authenticity of the Chikan in mind, the pant-suit was devised for a fun evening where she could dance and jump around in her sneakers. Anjul says that despite the contemporary nature of the outfit, the spotlight would still be on her owing to the heavily embellished couture piece that was true to the craftsmanship.
“Athiya shares a beautiful, intimate bond with her father and when she first tried on the piece, she phoned Suniel to see his reaction. The only thought floating in her mind was to have her father dressed in similar pastels as her. So, we designed a quintessential Chikankari Kurta for Suniel which had the Shettys beaming with undiluted happiness. He chose to pair a dhoti with the kurta to stay close to his roots” shares Anjul in her press release.
Women artisans in Lucknow working on the lehenga for Athiya Shetty
The choice of pastels in Athiya’s wardrobe to her jewellery was a well-orchestrated saga crafted by the fingers of women. Not only did it provide agency to women artisans in Awadh, but also celebrated the intricacies that a woman endows in her pursuits. Consequently, pastels became a vehicle to propel the generational bond which found its origins in the heirloom jewellery of Athiya’s grandmother.
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