Old is gold: A phrase that features in the list of top ten clichéd ‘words of wisdom’ and yet struggles to find its place in the ‘must do’s’ of trousseau shopping. sporting heirloom jewels is classy but does slipping into a hand-me-down lehenga earn the same respect? does the glitter of the timeworn fade over time when it comes to outfits or does it too speak of the glimmer of the past? can the grandma garment work its magic on the girl next door’s wedding? can the blue-blooded royalty carry this charm? We explore the fine line between charm and class, sentiments and second-hand, and fabrics and fashion.

 V for vintage: Does the glitter of the timeworn fade over time when it comes to wedding outfits or does it too speak of the glimmer of the past? 

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In the recent past, Kareena Kapoor (Khan), Sania Mirza and Priyanka Gandhi (Vadra) wore those ‘ghararas’ and ‘lehengas’ for their weddings that had been worn by women in their lives. All three being celebrity brides could have picked up designer runway outfits without having to worry about the price tag yet they chose to go vintage. And it’s not just blue-blooded royalty that is digging into dusty trunks for the classy vintage pieces worn by their mothers and grandmothers; the girl next door is doing that too.

Yes, while the first instinct for most brides-to-be is to go through bridal fashion magazines and start pinning inspiration pictures from designer collections on their Pinterest board, quite a few brides are now opting to wear vintage outfits for at least one of the many wedding functions. considering that 36% of Indian women wear their trousseau only once, re- using the bridal trousseau is definitely a nice fad!

Kareena Kapoor wore the same gharara that her mother-in-law Sharmila Tagore had worn for her wedding to Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi in 1969. Back in the day when our great grandmothers got married, passing the bridal outfit from one generation to the next wasn’t a tradition limited to royalty. it was a norm to pass on the bridal shararas, lehengas, and sarees as family heirlooms from one generation to the next as these were seen as symbols of a coming-of-age of sorts for every bride. Prerna Goel, sister-in-law of fashion designer Surily Goel, and a socialite and ex- model, had expressed her love for vintage in these words, “ I’m an old soul by heart. I love the ethnicity of Abu-Sandeep, Anamika Khanna and Sabyasachi; the vintage gotas and shararas of Hyderabad and Kolkata; my mother’s pure gold and silver sarees that are in tatters now, which I have patched up and worn again.”

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Kritika, a design student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (Fit) in New York says, “Karigars back in the day used real gold and silver zari embroidery and spent days and nights on a single garment. each garment was painstakingly embroidered and the fine workmanship of those days is incomparable. today, it is very difficult if not impossible to find that quality of work since the art is dying with the artisans themselves. Machine work will never compare to the handwork and craftsmanship of the karigars of those days. it is not surprising that the wedding trousseau was just as valued as the family jewels themselves.”


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Most brides agree. Ananya wore her grandmother’s Banarsi saree with real silver zari work for the pheras, “The zari work on the saree looks absolutely stunning even today and the workmanship from that time is unmatched. If I were to buy a similar saree today, it would be so expensive.” Delhi girl Megha Jain had worn her nani’s golden kheem khaab lehenga – which still looks as good as new – with a blouse that was picked to match. she says “I really wanted my bridal outfit to mean more than just a designer label and wearing my nani’s vintage lehenga was perfect. it was a little short for my height, but I decided to go without heels to compensate for my additional inches. I felt truly special wearing a piece of my family history on my wedding day.”

Yes, the reason the brides-to-be are opting to re-use their family couture is not about saving money but sentiments, followed by the love for vintage style and workmanship that is difficult to find today. Yuvika Sharma says that her reasons for going vintage were both, “I have always loved the vintage style of the bygone era. I wore my mother’s lehenga on the mehndi, but after I had given it a more contemporary twist.” she modified the blouse into a corset and wore her mum’s traditional jewellery to retain the vintage charm. “My reasons of wearing my mother’s lehenga were purely sentimental. one of the thoughts at the back of my head was the fact that my mother ‘crossed-over’ into married life in that dress and I wanted to wear the same outfit to signify my transition as well.”

Like Yuvika, most of the brides add their element of creativity to the original vintage garment by using all or some of the original pieces and combining it with new pieces. umang wore her mum’s vintage wedding chunni and worked the rest of the outfit around it. A little creativity can go a long way into turning a vintage piece into something that is beautiful, classy, and also appeals to the new-age bride’s modern style sensibilities.

Our advice to all the brides looking for their wedding outfit: Before you take a shopping trip to brightly lit stores displaying expensive designer replicas: get your mum or grandmother to open the old trunk or Godrej Almirah to show you her vintage wedding dress. You might just find some treasures and even if you don’t end up wearing it, the conversation will definitely make for a tender trip down memory lane.

(Words: Kanika Manchanda)

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