When we catch up with Chaitanya Rao on a busy weekday, he’s between shoots. With the stress-levels increasing, the designer juggles his work-life, a cup of coffee, and an interview with us. Bridal fashion being in demand, there’s so much to explore and experiment. With his collections, too, taking every bride’s wedding by storm, Chaitanya reveals why coral is ‘the’ colour to go for, why he’s reviving Kanjivaram silks and lots more.
As a designer, what trends do you foresee for brides this year?
For bridals, there’s always something classic. You don’t tend to tamper too much with it. Since the colour of the season is coral, you’ll see a lot of it this year. It’s a colour which works on our skin tone as well. I think there’ll be a diversion from silhouettes as well, because for weddings you want a classic, traditional feel. As for me, I am trying to revive the whole Kanjivaram look onto ghagras, because what happens is that we tend to keep following what’s happening up North such as the Benaras etc. Invariably the Kanjivaram gets neglected. Style wise, there’s a lot that depends on when the wedding is happening. These days there are so many destination weddings happening so you bear that in mind. In the south, people are having mehendi ceremonies too. With so many functions, the style varies. It’s important to keep the bride and groom coordinated. Depends on where and what kind of wedding it is. For weddings, it is not just a trend-based style but also infusing classic colours and such elements. Red with a mix of coral is what I predict for 2019 for sure.
How are you bringing in more Kanjivaram to bridal fashion?
I’m trying to revive Kanjivaram in the form of lehengas. The brides of today are quite modern and they know what they want, so they would do very contemporary styles but would keep the ghagra more traditional. I’m incorporating this in my line as well. Classy, sexy, confident – that’s a woman of today. I love the Kanjivaram fabric and the weight of the silk. We’ve all grown up with silk through our mother’s sarees, so the inspiration pretty much stems from there. Since I work with films, I mix a bit of fashion and films together and bring in glam to my work too.
What’s the process like creating an outfit for the modern bride?
Normally, there is a lot of planning. It is required because you also have to coordinate with what the other people are wearing. We try to complement the outfits of the people who are usually close to the brides. It easily takes 2-3 months, because my production is in Mumbai as well. So, this includes coordinating the stitching and manufacturing as well. There is a lot of involvement from the mother, the grandmother, aunts etc for the bride’s outfit. It depends on the venue, location and the time of the year as well. Season makes a lot of difference and the colour palette. It starts off with the card as well, because you sometimes know about what colour they want from the invitations. It’s almost like directing a movie, I’d say! A lot has come and it’s more organized. Attention to detail has really gone up.
Where does the inspiration come from?
It’s a lot of things. Either from the fabrics, a book, a movie etc. But bridal way, I’d go the classic way with a modern twist. I like my embellishment a little more 3-dimensional, with extra embroidery. I tend to use a mix of crystals, Swarovski, the zardosi etc – inspiration can come from anywhere!
What do you have in store for bridal fashion?
My original focus was more on western. But now, we’re focusing on the brides as well so there’s a whole shift in thinking now. I’m using ‘muga’, an earthy kind of fabric from Assam. My line has a bit of fashion and films in it, the sexy blouses which I’m known for and I tend to use a lot of luxury, natural fabric silks. I love using more feminine fabrics and ruffles – a big trend as well. My pieces are couture pieces, so they would last a lifetime, just like marriages!
Top 5 bridal must-dos?
Comfort – in fact, for one bride I actually stitched pockets in her lehengas. Next would be to ensure your make-up is not overdone. You should definitely have a make-up test before you zero in on the look. Footwear, ensure they are comfortable enough to have you running around easily. And there’s definitely proper sleep which is a must! And a good wedding planner, it’s just as essential.
Which was your favourite wedding look from 2018?
I loved Deepika Padukone’s white and gold saree which she wore for her second reception – an ivory and gold chikankari Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla saree.
Coming to grooms, what trends do you predict for them in 2019?
They are far more aware now. With the grooms, it’s best to stick to classics. There is a lot of structure now, but there’s some sort of pop up that needs to come across. From the design perspective, I see a lot of mismatched sort of embroidery and being very symmetrical. Very similar to what Ranveer Singh was wearing in his Rohit Bal outfit. Most colours depend on the complexion, but a little pop colour or detailing can definitely make the groom stand out.