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The Cult of Concept Lehengas

By Sanhati Banerjee

Meet the new cult creators…the ready-to-wear pre-stitched lehenga drapes that are every young woman’s festive go-to ensemble and any bride’s smart trousseau pick. We decode the trend for you.

Well, you may be the bride who loves bespoke but pre-made sartorial picks are as much the ensembles of desire as they are of convenience. Their appeal lies in the picture of finished work that they present. The neatness that they bring in with that proper tuck, blend and finishes sitting prettily in their poised places. What do they offer you? Well, precision and presentable chic woven with the easy-to-wear principle that fits the bill of the fiercely fuss-free woman’s casual as well as bridal wear array. You may love that saree flaunting Indie flair, but what if you don’t like to do the pleats or you worry that they might not look all that gathered after a few hours? You may love the saree with bold prints but what if you are awry of the pallu and its positioning? You may also be a lover of lehengas, in addition to being a saree aficionado. And, finally, what if you want to combine the both on your wedding ceremony, that is, pack in the punches from both theses sartorial staples and slip into the ease and comfort of a fused silhouette and a concept wear creation.









Cuts and Composition
The composition of concept wear lehengas draws from the appeal of semi-formal ceremonies such as pre-wedding functions as well as Indie-themed events and festivals. You can also wear it to your friend’s wedding if you do not want to do the gown act. By combining the drape of a saree with the structured shape of a lehenga, all the while retaining the formal elegance and yet infusing the drama of a draped flair, you get a single-piece ready-to-wear slip-in concept lehenga saree. And voila, you have a saviour for many-a-ceremonies, especially when you want to flaunt a fusion statement and even better, when all you could think of by looking at that heavy saree is yawn! The best part is it’s not a lehenga, but a lehenga with a twist, so you get the pallu acting as a formal cover-up and brining a niche look to the dramatic lehenga. Slip into it, zip it up, slip into your shoes…and you are ready to show up! Designer Mona Puniani says “Trends of merging Western influences into Indian garments and also Indo-fusion works gave birth to the concept of concept wear lehengas! These are easy and fun lehengas that are in tune with the taste of contemporary wearers. One has a variety to choose from different silhouettes like the saree lehenga, long jacket with ghaghara etc.” This new format in Indian wear segment is sweeping all the limelight thanks to its draped-n-structured drama. “Fusing both the saree and the lehenga into one; this versatile cut is capturing everybody’s attention. Known as the ‘half-lehenga design’ saree, it is a cultural combination of the saree and lehenga. It is a ready-made saree, which is also perfect for wearing during weddings, parties and religious functions as it does not take too much time and effort to put on as sarees do” informs Mona Puniani while summing up the essence of lehenga sarees. It comes with a lengthy flared bottom with a zip at the side that adjusts to your relevant size and measurements. The half-lehenga style saree is also comfortable and easy for those who are not much acquainted with the traditional hanging and pleated saree. “They just have to tuck and drape it around once and it is done. Another feature is that you can mix and match it with contrasting dupattas. There is no rule about using a particular colour of dupatta for a certain lehenga. There is always an opportunity to experiment unlike a conventional saree” says Mona Puniani.



Forms and Flairs
“Concept wear lehengas or lehenga sarees are an added dimension to the ethnic varieties of lehengas that are available” says Vineet Chhajer, director, Vineet’s Sarees. “Style-meets-affordability-meets-usability” is the creative credo that defines the impulse for creating these pieces as Vineet Chhajer points out. Much like that Benarasi saree of you mom, traditional lehengas, which are usually purchased for the bride and other close relatives are rendered unusable later. Breaking this routine of sartorial confinement, concept wear lehengas step in to render “multi-wear” notion into your wardrobes. “Lehenga sarees give that conventional one-time wear bridal ethnic dress an added usability; when the occasion is someone close’s wedding, wear it in the lehenga drape or use the same as a saree with a flared pleat” explains Vineet Chajjer. The interpretation of this as a style is on the user. “It can be worn as a lehenga by detaching the pallu, it can be worn in the Gujarati style, Bengali style or traditional saree style as is the mood” he adds.

Functional and Versatile
Breaking the barrier between formal and semi-formal wear, lehenga sarees sweep across a variety of moods and ceremonies---from the official engagement party to the stylish cocktail, from the festive party and romantic sangeet to your own reception. With this multi-purpose and multi-wear vocabulary, comes the grammar of drapes that are easy to attach and detach. “A medium embroidered one can easily be worn at one’s best friend’s wedding. A piece flaunting slightly heavy embroidery can be worn by the bride or her near and dear ones at cocktails, sangeets and receptions” explains Vineet Chajjer. “Ready-to-wear formats that are being used in this basically have a cancan cut bottom, usually coupled with an A-line petticoat. Also, stitched lehenga pleats are being used in gown sarees as well” he adds.



Fabric and Colour Linings
The key fabrics for lehenga sarees are satin-georgette, georgette, velvet, chantily lace, nets and dentelles keeping in mind the season. And, the colours would be bright-to-dark…like blacks, navy blues, hot pinks, orange, gold and bright reds. You can also think emerald green, fuchsia pink and dual tones of gold. A saree works on all body types. “A gown-saree lehenga may not suit someone heavy or very thin though. Essentially, it is meant for the average body types, as their cuts and stitched pleats would otherwise not suit the heavy or thin frames” elucidates Vineet Chajjer. Lehenga sarees are at-the-moment couture picks and designers are saying that a few of these should be a part of your bridal wardrobe; you can go ahead and choose the one that suits our frame and style. Talking about a standalone style in concept pieces, designer Jessica Khanijo singles out the mermaid style as she says “A mermaid styled concept lehenga is usually fitted till the knee and is flared from the bottom with a pallu or the drape coming from the waist while for a good flared one, the drape come from the back giving it a niche look. It is just like wearing a dress; you don’t have to take the pain to adjust it from anywhere.”




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