The Bride Wore Black

India has been through a sea-change of sorts for the better part of the last decade. Nowhere is this society in transition more visible than in our good ole fashion business. Mega malls, international high street retailers, luxury labels, credit banking, working out of the nearest Starbucks — but

especially the Indian bride.

Since almost all of Indian fashion's bonanza is the result of our super-rich wedding market, what the bride wants to wear is a perfect pointer to the times we live in. When I was a teenager dreaming of my big day, every bride I knew wanted to wear Ritu Kumar. Kumar's brides were trad-loving simpering

coquettes.

Today, the bridal trousseau market is an overcrowded bazaar. The wedding lehenga is your ticket to a Delhi farmhouse or a Mumbai penthouse.

But bridal-wear is a cold-shouldered term in fashion circles. 'Serious' designers/ journalists/ stylists/ models are cavalier towards bridal designers. It will bring in the greenbacks but is a lehenga really 'fashion'?

It is the rare designer who takes on the country's greatest essential commodity and turns it into the most unique thing you have ever seen. That man today is Gaurav Gupta.

Gupta, a graduate from the avant-garde Central St Martin's College, London, has brought much of the British underground-style to Indian fashion. He debuted in 2006 with a collection of ruched saris that are now considered iconic. I would even say he was the first to give the boring sari the 'coolitude' it enjoys today, where even pre-teens wanted to wear one. Gupta's cocktail saris were drapes of metallic georgette crimped and decorated only at the shoulder with three-dimensional metal and leather embroidery. Despite its ubiquity, it became the new must-have in every trousseau.

In his seven-year career, Gupta has rarely missed a step. From his McQueen-esque tartan gowns to rippled neon shifts from last year, he has worn his edginess like a badge of honour. His signature is a militant sexiness — power shoulders, metallic fabrics, body-conscious shapes and drapes — but dipped in absolute womanliness. Gupta especially is an important designer in India's newly feminist mood. His hallmark has been to encourage brides in standing out and expressing their uniqueness. He has re-imagined the conventional sari and the lehenga and evolved them into futuristic fashion.

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