Every Indian girl envisions herself in a beautiful lehenga choli at her wedding. A traditional form of clothing, lehenga cholis have been a staple in an Indian brides trousseau for ages now. The humble lehenga choli which has been home wear has been elevated by designers into one of the most fashionable attires of the day.
The ancient version of the skirt or ghagra has evolved from the antariya which when stitched on one side becomes tabular or can be gathered around the waist and worn with a girdle or drawstring. It is paired with a jacket style blouse called choli, something very similar to the saree blouse. The third piece that completes this attire is the dupatta. Most commonly worn in the seedha pallu style with the length of the scarf thrown over the shoulder from the back, it is further pulled over the chest across to the other side and pinned. Nowadays however, it is also worn like a scarf, or carried on the side apart from many other styles. The skirt style provides for better ease of movement for village women who need to cover long distances every day for water and chores. Lehengas worn by worker women arent full length and do not reach the ankles. They usually end a few inches above the ankle to make movement and work easier.
The Southern part of India has another version of the lehenga choli called the pattu pavadam. This is traditionally worn by girls before puberty, when they change into a saree denoting that they are of a marriageable age. The pavadam is an airy comfortable skirt which allows girls to play freely. The choli is long in the style of a shirt and the dupatta is omitted unless there is a special occasion.
The Mughals gave the lehenga a whole new dimension. It became the attire of the royal ladies and aristocracy, and was worn regularly during occasions. Paired with the typical muslim paasa, a lehenga choli is a staple bridal wear even today.
The lehenga is a favourite canvas for designers to play with. The sheer elegance and richness of the entire look lends itself to experimentation on various levels. The lehenga is most popularly made of silk which can be sourced from many parts of the country, depending on the choice of the wearer. Bangalore silk lehengas, Mysore silk lehengas, Assam silk lehengas are some of the most sought after silk lehenga styles. Other fabrics are brocade, georgette, chiffon and net. A combination of these is also used today to add volume to the skirt. Lehengas most popularly are made in a puffy umbrella shape. However, other styles like the mermaid, bodycon and flair also have many patrons.
Today, cotton lehenga skirts are catching up and can be paired casually with a choli, crop top or even a tee shirt. These lehengas come with beautiful handloom work like kalamkari and chikankari. Block printed and tie and dye printed skirts are also trending and look absolutely fabulous when paired in contrast with interesting shades.
What happens when two amazing trends meet each other? The saree and lehenga, two defining Indian styles come together to make the lehenga saree. Essentially a stitched saree, the final look is a cross between a saree and a lehenga when the lower part is the skirt of the lehenga with the pleats of the saree and the upper part is the blouse. The dupatta is draped like the pallu of the saree completing the look. Chiffon and georgette with net is the fabric of choice for the lehenga saree as they drape beautifully. Lehenga gowns are also very popular. This Western yet ethnic outlook to the lehenga has won the hearts of young girls all over the country and is a frequently spotted style at weddings.
Modern day silhouettes include interesting variations that can be customized as per every girls needs. Some latest lehenga designs include the panelled lehenga, A-line lehengas, asymmetrical lehengas, kalidar lehengas, lehengas with full flair and much more. Designer lehengas frequently display a similarity to royal couture. With rich embroidery, embellishment with precious and semi-precious stones, gold and silver thread work, lehengas make for the perfect attire for an Indian bride. A can can skirt is attached to give the lehenga a ball room effect.
Typical ghaghra choli patterns include ikat, mangalgiri, kalamkari, zardosi, maheshwari, leheriya, batik, bandhni, etc. These techniques are best demonstrated on a beautiful lehenga skirt. Each piece made with either of these techniques is unique as they are handmade and cannot be replicated.
Lehengas for weddings are heavier affairs which have intricate detailing and work. Designer bridal lehengas are custom made and have variations in design, embroidery, zari work and much more. The cholis are similarly made and paired with gorgeous dupattas to complete the look. Traditional bridal jewellery like a maang tika, satlada, naulakha, etc. works brilliantly with bridal lehengas.
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