The kaleidoscope of beauty and colour that India serves up is mirrored in fashion stores this Diwali. An incredible variety of patterns, styles, drapes and silhouettes have gone on sale across the country’s boutiques, with the emphasis on garments that dazzle and strike a happy, festive note.
"People look for versatility and a contemporary approach when picking outfits for Diwali," says India-based designer Priyadarshini Rao, who was recently in the city for the fashion exhibition, Numaish. "The idea is to get an outfit that will look different if dressed up or down and one that has a global feel," she says.
Finding such outfits is not impossible given that the season is all about incorporating clean lines, colour blocking, layering and a multi-hued palette. "This year Studio 8 has seen a huge variety of requests for the Diwali festivities," says boutique owner Sarah Belhasa. "The main trend is bright, neon colours and less heavy work. Neons are on-trend on the high street as well as in Western styles so it was nice to see our ethnic styles following suit. Manish Malhotra’s latest collection at the store, which is especially being showcased for Diwali, beautifully incorporates gorgeous gold hues with neon embellishments." Studio 8 stocks clothes by designers such as Manish Malhotra, Ritu Beri and Pakistani favourite Hassan Shehryar Yasin of the label HSY.
Brights and gold are on-trend elsewhere too. "This festive season it’s all about bright colours of pink, orange and reds accentuated with pure zari and heavy embroideries," says Hyderabad-based designer Gaurang Shah who incorporates traditional weaves into his designs. "A carry over from last year, ankle-length anarkalis are definitely in the limelight, but there are as many opting for a classic straight kurta and churidar and an extravagant dupatta."
Though Diwali is more commonly associated with lights, colour has always been important to the celebrations. It seems you can’t be part of the celebrations unless you are decked in rich aubergine, royal emeralds, deep blues, earthy coffees, tangerines and fuchsia. All these vivid colours are rendered even more dramatic in ethnic fabrics such as kota, raw silk, tussore, Kanchipuram silk, bandhani and kalamkari, says Shah.
If Shah is rooting for the anarkali, Rao favours versatility with long shirt tunics, wide roomy pants and slimline silhouettes with high slits. Belhasa says that they have entertained a lot of requests for long, flowing outfits, especially in lace. "We have also had people looking for short kurtis with interesting salwars. Nael Essa’s fabulous 50 Shades of Chiffon collection that we launched exclusively at Studio 8 especially for Diwali was a huge hit. He also launched a fabulous collection of short kurtis with printed Patiala salwars," she says.
Garments this season are modern twists on traditional tales. "Kurtas with collars, button-down tunics and long dresses that morph into kurtas are some ways in which the contemporary meets the ethnic," says Rao. She offers the perfect Diwali outfit: team a long rich brocade button-down tunic in deep red and black with a flared silk skirt.
Adds Belhasa, "We’ve always had collections that combine the old and new. We even have traditional and Arabian fusions and as Dubai is a perfect mix of all cultures, these styles are the perfect choice for the festive season." ■