Bridal fashion has always been in the spotlight — but the times are far more exciting today. The transition from conventional and heavy ensembles to a fusion of tradition and modernity has been refreshing to say the least. But there are some, like designer duo Monica Shah and Karishma Swali of the label JADE, who have been at the forefront of this revolution, much before others. JADE, launched in 2008, is the culmination of Monica and Karishma’s passion for craft and couture, and over 20 years of experience in international fashion and haute couture. Their creations have been worn by some Bollywood celebs, including Alia Bhatt, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kiara Advani, and others. They use innumerable Indian crafts and techniques to create every piece of their label.
Their latest collection ‘BaniThani' Handcrafted Heirlooms that was unveiled at the recently-concluded FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week yet again speaks volumes of their passion for culture, art, and crafts. The collection is a celebration of the authenticity, individuality, and inner strength of women everywhere while staying committed to the label’s love aﬀair with age-old wisdom and handicrafts with the modern-day, 21st-century bride. To make the collection even more striking, they have collaborated with award-winning Leheriya artist Mohd Saquib to create select stunningly hand-dyed leheriya ensembles with sustainable natural colours derived from turmeric, madder root, onion peels, and the like.
We caught up with the co-founder and creative director of JADE, Monica Shah, to know a little more about their collection, some style inspiration for new-age brides and much more. Edited excerpts:
1. What is the motivation behind 'BaniThani' – your latest collection?
We wanted to create a collection inspired by the strong sense of individuality and the beauty of authenticity; of acknowledging your inner fire and celebrating what makes each of us so unique yet so connected. For the longest time, we have been drawn to the 18th century Rajasthani miniature paintings. We wanted a collection that inspired this feeling of liberation, of shedding your inhibitions and being yourself.
2. Are handcrafted heirlooms the order of the day for new-age brides?
There’s definitely a renewed sense of love and appreciation for handcrafted heirlooms. Brides, today, want to start their own unique traditions of passing something special to future generations. Moreover, they want ensembles that reflect and celebrate their roots and heritage.
3. What is bridal wear going to look like post-pandemic?
There is a shift from following trends in clothing to choosing what feels comfortable! People now want more pieces that are versatile and timeless, which means clothing that can last for years and can be styled in multiple ways. Mindful luxury is gaining significance among the conscious Indian consumer.
4. You've collaborated with Leheriya artist Mohd. Saquib for this collection and used sustainable hand-dyed fabrics. Have we moved past the overdressed and jazzy ensembles for weddings? What does the future of bridal fashion look like?
The pandemic has certainly reinforced a special enthusiasm for celebration and basking in every little pleasure that comes from dressing up. At the same time, there’s a greater focus on aspects such as functionality, ease of wear and movement and mindfulness of our roots and traditional crafts. Bani Thani evolves from a coming together of all these different moods, feelings and learnings.
5. How can the modern bride own her looks with confidence?
She just has to be herself, really! Our ensembles are versatile and customisable. We offer a unique and varied selection of palettes and silhouettes, so there’s something for every kind of bride. However, she wants to style her ensemble, we’re here to help her achieve the look of her dreams.
6. How inclusive is JADE as a fashion house?
We believe that every bride deserves to look and feel empowered in her own skin. It is her big day, and there’s only room for love, hope, joy, and celebration rather than self-doubt. Brides of all shapes and sizes are welcome to our studio.
7. Can you tell us five ways in which we can use leheriya beyond saris and dupattas?
a. Trousers paired with a button-down shirt;
b. Jacket paired with a tunic, a pair of denims, and a crop top;
c. A statement-making wrap top paired with palazzos or a fusion saree;
d. Breezy skirts paired with embroidered bralettes;
e. A chic dress