- Something borrowed
There’s something truly magical and beautiful about adding something of heirloom value, borrowed from your grandma or passed down from your mother, to your bridal trousseau. Your mother’s wedding blouse, your grandma’s ornate jewellery… these are beautiful, meaningful things that can make your wedding feel even more precious. This also makes the work of putting your bridal ensemble together easier. Pro-tip: make an heirloom item your statement piece and build the rest of your ensemble around it!
- Plan ahead
It always helps to know exactly what you want and don’t want in your lehenga. Take some time to do your research, understand your own needs, likes and dislikes. What kind of bride do you envision yourself to be? The clearer a picture you have about this, the easier the rest of the process will be.
- Trust a professional
Trust us, you don’t want to wing this, what with so many logistical challenges already in place! Reach out to an expert in bridal-wear, talk to them about your vision, see if there’s a synergy and proceed accordingly. They will also have all the materials needed, plus will carry out the entire process in the safest way possible. For instance, we at JADE, have been doing online bridal consultations for the past year now for brides within India as well as abroad. And the entire process is immensely seamless and collaborative, no matter where in the world the bride is!
- Trust the process
We understand the scepticism behind getting a bridal lehenga made online. After all, there’s so many things to consider, most important of all: the fitting! At JADE, we send you swatches by post, so you can choose the right colour, fabric, and embroidery yourself. We also host multiple Zoom video sessions and guide you through taking the most accurate measurements of yourself. Post that, we send you the ensemble for multiple rounds of fittings, until you get the ensemble that’s made just for YOU.
- Keep an open mind
While it’s important to have a vision and know what you want, we also recommend leaving some room for experimentation. Creating a bridal lehenga is a very intimate, emotional, and collaborative process. Trust your designer to understand your vision and elevate it with their own originality. Let ideas flow. Brainstorm together. You never know what magic will come out of it, but we assure you it’ll be beautiful!
How many of us have spent our time just lovingly gazing at the exquisite heirloom jewellery passed down to us from our mothers and grandmothers? Or picked up some unique trinkets from travels across the country and the world, only to stash it away in the closet? I understand the feeling!
All the ornaments in my possession are treasures for me – pieces I have collected from my travels from Kutch to London. For the longest time, I believed that these heirlooms were too special to be brought out. But, over the years, heirloom silver ornaments have become an inseparable part of my personal style. The beauty of these pieces is in its handcrafted artistry, subtle opulence and timeless beauty. They effortlessly breathe new life into every ensemble they’re paired with – be it modern or traditional, glamorous or functional.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we don’t have to wait for a special occasion to roll in to look and feel special. It’s up to us to create those special moments ourselves and express ourselves in unique ways! For me, that’s through heirloom silver jewellery, handcrafted accessories and vintage trinkets. When we were putting together the looks for Handcrafted Occasion Wear – our luxury pret line, I saw the perfect opportunity to not just express my love for this fusion styling, but also give you some inspiration to bring out your own treasures and add them to your ensembles, creating unique signature looks.
Where to begin?
Play with Textures
Play around a bit!
All in all…
Indian culture and its artisanal heritage has always been one of the key pillars and the cornerstones of JADE. We’ve always believed that couture goes beyond glamorous ensembles. It an opportunity to tell the story of our crafts and celebrate the versatile of heirloom artistry.
Silver jewellery is one of the cornerstones of craftsmanship among the communities in Kutch. The beauty of silver is in its subtlety. It radiates a soft glow and carries a unique charm that has always fascinated us. In Indian bridal wear, gold has always been a mainstay. But silver is surely deserving of attention, especially in couture. As a metal, it’s a beautifully ductile and malleable, and can be made into threads that can be woven into fabrics. This is what became the inspiration for our collection ‘Shubhra’.
Shubhra for us represents the purity of hope and the glimmer of new beginnings. We wanted to create ensembles that capture the magical feeling of a wedding itself, while honouring the beauty of heirloom silver. It captures the magical feeling that weddings have… the ethereal, dreamlike mood. The ensembles of Shubhra demonstrate that Indian bridal wear can be glamourous without all the heavy work. It can capture the beauty of bridal-wear without having to stick to the usual reds and golds. These ensembles have that soft silvery sheen that create such a fascinating play of light! And to think it’s done with thread-work… mind-blowing!
For the longest time we have seen Indian crafts and techniques being labelled as old-world and archaic, as if it finds no place in the present world. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whether it’s Indian jewellery or fabrics, they are beautifully versatile and can be easily adapted to create modern forms. In fact, heirloom silver jewellery is a mainstay in our day to day style. In fact, I – Monica – love adding vintage silver jewellery to my day to day style, as it adds a unique touch to the look and completely elevates even the simplest of outfits, without going over the top, the way gold does!
In our campaign, we go one step further in our homage to silver by incorporating our archival silver jewellery into the styling – to show you that these pieces don’t belong in the past! So many of these pieces date back to centuries. But the artistry and intricate detailing are simply timeless. Besides, is there anything more beautiful than adding a piece of beautiful ancient history to your ensemble? We don’t think so!
In time like these, few things can feel as therapeutic as reminiscing the moments filled with love, joy and above all, hope. One such moment that I always hold closest to my heart is the day the first batch of the students of The Chanakya School of Craft graduated. We set out with this school to empower women from underprivileged backgrounds, but I think in the end, their confidence, optimism and fire to rise above all odds has left me empowered.
Our next batch of students are waiting for the pandemic to end so they can come back to school – their very own safe haven. And if I am being honest, I can’t wait for the school to reopen either, and be inspired by these brilliant stars!
In the meantime, let me take you back to how it all started.
In rural India, especially among some rural communities in Kutch, Gujarat, embroidery is a huge and integral part of the women’s daily lives. They use embroidery and several unique weaving techniques to make their own clothes, linen, home décor accents, torans to name a few. In fact, they even make bridal ensembles for their children’s weddings!
We’ve visited Kutch and several parts of India for a closer look and deeper understanding of their craft, and have always been left mesmerised. These techniques are intricate and elaborate, yet so deeply ingrained into their lives that executing them feels like second nature to these artisans. And not to mention, how unique these techniques are! As proud as we were, we were also left a bit saddened. This art, this heritage is dying a slow death. It’s almost impossible to sustain it in the face of the rapidly rampant fast fashion. And it needs to be sustained, not only because entire communities’ livelihoods depend on it, but also because these crafts and techniques are unique to our country’s heritage. The artisans and craftsmen families have been practicing it since generations, and deserve the recognition and reverence.
As designers who wanted to create ensembles rooted in Indian heritage, we knew we had to do our bit. The seeds of Chanakya School of Craft were sown in our minds. But it was our mentor (and Creative Director of Dior) Maria Grazia Chiuri, who over multiple long conversations, gave us that final push. The school was built on a few key cornerstones. For as long as we can remember, the embroidery and crafting space has been dominated by men, even though women from the community are equally adept and have been doing the same work in villages and their tribes. Saving and sustaining these crafts is the need of the hour, and for this we need more and more people involved at every level. We couldn’t do this without breaking the gender barriers around it. We started the school to create equality and equity. The curriculum doesn’t just cover embroidery and crafting techniques, but offers a holistic learning experience.
So that when they’re finally graduated from the school, they are thoroughly empowered with all the knowledge, resources and skills to make it in the ‘real world’. Not just that, but they also now have the knowledge to adapt Indian arts and crafts to make it more relevant to modern times.
India’s artisanal heritage and its communities cannot exist in silos on the fringes. The school endeavours to bridge the gap between traditional crafts and the modern world, to facilitate gender equality and equity, as well as a timeless sustenance of centuries-old crafts.
Our first batch consisted of about 200 students – girls and women across diverse age groups and backgrounds working together to create a future that’s more inclusive, empowering and authentic. Many of our students started out at the school as a haven where they could be themselves, relax and enjoy learning. By the time they graduated, they were carrying dreams of launching their own labels, becoming independent designers, and so much more.
As designers, there is nothing more precious than watching these women light up with the same joy and enthusiasm as we did when we started out!