The Indian fashion designers who now design weddings


Whoever said personalisation is overrated, obviously hasn’t met a new-age bride-to-be. She is selective, brand-aware and is always looking for customised wedding paraphernalia to meet her specific needs. She is more likely to pick made-to-order kalire over off-the-rack knick knacks, and is just as particular about wedding fashion as she is about all other details of her wedding too—including the decor. For a millennial bride, her wedding design and decor needs to be as bespoke as her lehenga, and a cookie-cutter mandap and stage backdrop just don’t make the cut for her anymore.

Between putting together the bridal trousseau and finalising the makeup artist, the pursuit of personalised decor can be a big cause of mishaps, mistakes and meltdowns. To ensure that yours is avoided as much as possible, we rounded up the Indian couturiers who are offering the same design acumen to entire wedding set-ups as they do to their bespoke garments, and asked them how they translated their aesthetic to unique concepts for weddings. Scroll ahead to find out what they had to say.

Indian fashion designers who double up as wedding design and decor experts

Manish Malhotra

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Couturier Manish Malhotra is the man behind many of the most stunning looks seen on celebrity brides, from Kareena Kapoor Khan’s shaded pink sharara for her wedding reception and Priyanka Chopra’s elegant powder blue kurta set for her pre-wedding puja to Isha Ambani’s dazzling gold ensemble for her pre-wedding celebrations in Udaipur. And of course, this is apart from the countless other bridal and cult-worthy outfits he’s designed for Bollywood films and celebrities, off the mandap.

When it comes to design, Malhotra’s repertoire has been quite dynamic. He created a couture beauty line with MyGlamm to delve into beauty in December 2018, and in the same month, he also made his way into event production, management and wedding design with MM Productions. Isha Ambani’s sangeet was his first project in this realm. “I believe fashion is an art that celebrates a culture and an era,” says the couturier. “While weddings aren’t a new territory for me (I have translated the visions of millions of brides), envisioning the entire occasion feels like a natural progression of my journey. This is a new canvas to self-express, and in order to evolve, one must constantly reinvent, learn and push the envelope for experimentation. Weddings involve a more encompassing visual aesthetic of two families, powerful emotions and design details to ensure the entire event stays memorable for a lifetime. Foraying into MM Production has refreshed my perspective of design, and this new-found freedom has been one huge challenging, exciting project—compelling me to think as not just a creator, but also an entrepreneur.”

This decision for him came on the heels of “being able to be part of the whole journey, not just of the bride, but the coming together of two families. My style is the marriage of tradition, culture and unapologetic glamour,” he says. “The idea is not to limit us as creative professionals, but craft a modern design language that speaks of our Indian heritage with global flair, just like our label does.”

The fashion designer also spills the beans on how he curated the set-up for Isha Ambani’s pre-wedding festivities. “For Isha Ambani’s sangeet ceremony in Udaipur, I wanted everything to exude glamour and elegance, right from the floral arrangements and grand stage to menus and napkins. We flew down an international team for event production and floral arrangements, along with colours and mirrors, to create a larger-than-life feeling. A part of the set-up was transformed into a picturesque setting reminiscent of Benaras Ghat. Its creation took months of ideation and planning—from the right colours and set designers, we ensured that every meticulous detail matched the vision that Nitaji and Isha always had for this glorious occasion.”

Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla

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From designing bridal outfits for several A-listers over the years—such as Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh’s Mumbai reception ivory and gold outfits, Priyanka Chopra’s ensembles for her mehandi and Bollywood reception, as well as Isha Ambani’s heritage wedding lehenga—to a trajectory peppered with many milestones including receiving a National Award, this design duo has played a pioneering part in shaping the country’s fashion industry.

Just like everything about their celebrated 30-years-plus career in fashion, foraying into wedding design and decor “was an entirely organic extension of creativity for us,” enthuses Abu Jani. For them, it’s always been about stretching their imagination and creative expression to see where it leads. Turns out, this eventually brought them to wedding and event design—from couture to furniture design and then interior design. The fashion designers agree that “a perfect wedding is about so much more than couture. It’s about every element working in sync to create a magical experience—decor, lighting, food and beverages, entertainment as well as ambiance. We design and direct the entire affair as composers and conductors.”

They initiated their design journey into the wedding design circuit with Shweta Bachchan’s wedding in 1997, which was a beautifully intimate affair at Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan’s Mumbai residence. “For her mehandi, we dressed the entrance of the house in trees made of white tuberoses. Inside, beautiful floor-to-ceiling curtains in intricate floral jaali adorned the space. Her sangeet was a traveling royal entourage awash in beiges and oranges. There were flags with gota details and in-lit tables, and the florals were inspired by the Bengali tradition of flowers, shola work,” says Khosla.

When probed on how they infuse their fashion USP into wedding design, Khosla explains, “One’s aesthetic sensibilities remain the same no matter what the medium. It is an effortless infusion because it comes as second nature to us. We believe in original, handcrafted, God is in the detail, informed by tradition but reinvented by our new eyes, design, that seamlessly fuses our work in both couture and wedding design.” “We only do a select few weddings, which allows us to make each one unique and out-of-the-box,” adds Jani.

Tarun Tahiliani

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Tarun Tahiliani has contributed in giving Indian bridal couture a new life, courtesy a seamless fusion of artisanal, indigenous Indian techniques with European tailoring finesse. From dressing the likes of Katrina Kaif and Kangana Ranaut to Nita Ambani and Hilary Clinton, the designer has come a long way since he launched his eponymous brand in 1990.

Tahiliani’s stint with wedding design and decor commenced when he decided to help a friend. “Sometimes you just get pushed into things…and I ended up helping my friend Minal Modi for a spectacular wedding reception she was hosting for her friend’s son in New Delhi. It was a combination of fantasy, theatrical lighting, installations, sensory overload and a level of exquisiteness that in a way is seductive, and every once in a while, it’s fun to play with.”

The couturier is known to prioritise lightness, poise and romance, and feels strongly averse to poorly conducted wedding production. “I have been to way too many weddings where there is way too much light, bad quality sound, three thousand dishes… and it’s a nightmare. I work with a more monochromatic or toned-down colour palette, with a lot of florals. I think to maintain the universal balance is my philosophy—this includes very soft lighting and excellent quality sound,” he says. To ensure he is commits to every wedding he takes up to the T, Tahiliani stays away from partaking in regular projects. “I don’t do this as an ongoing business. I do it once in a while when I have the time,” he concludes.

Shivan & Narresh

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From bikini saris to skimpy trikinis inspired by Alexander Calder, designers Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja have created waves for their incongruous-yet-viable collections since the launch of their eponymous, luxury swimwear brand. So much so that Bhatiya and Kukreja’s twist to the six-yard-staple has been a hit with celebrities like Dita Von Teese, Padma Lakshmi and Nicki Minaj too.

After their debut at Cannes, the duo extended their repertoire with resort wear and accessories. In 2017, the launch of their events vertical, Shivan & Narresh Celebrations, seemed like a natural progression. “As designers, you’re always looking for a wider palette to express your creative vision. When we design sets for our fashion shows or for a Shivan & Narresh wedding, the idea is to create that right context amongst which the family and the guests that we’ve dressed can complete the setting. Indians are obsessed with weddings and splurge with open hearts, but what we seldom understand is that a single wedding design director can actually ensure that all the innumerable things you do for the wedding come together aesthetically on the planned day. And that’s exactly what we do at Shivan & Narresh Celebrations. When we design a celebration, it envelopes a 360-degree design view of the entire event,” reveals Bhatiya.

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On how their fashion aesthetic marries into their design creativity, Kukreja says, “We address the altered mindsets of millennial brides and grooms though our signature aesthetic, like a minimalistic approach in design over a maximalist one. Playing with our design and art print philosophy, we love to approach traditions with a contemporary approach, inspired from our travel sojourns across the globe.”

Giving an example of one of their weddings, Bhatiya recollects, “We had designed all the five events, starting from an engagement brunch to a Sufi welcome dinner, following the traditional mehendi, cocktail and finally wedding ceremonies. The event that particularly stood out for us, in terms of design elements, was the glamorous cocktail evening, which used the brand’s signature skeinwork aesthetic in the decor. The whole event was illustrated by more than one million gold pellets hanging from the ceiling like a swoosh in a cosmic sky, creating a magnificent setting for the occasion.”

Also read:

8 Bollywood celebrity couples who are on the wedding watchlist in 2019

8 ways to customise your mehandi design like celebrity brides

8 new mangalsutra designs that millennial brides need to bookmark

10 celebrity-approved bridal necklace designs to add to your trousseau

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