We have seen the revival of the traditional Banarasi Saris is very much at the forefront of the Indian Fashion. Creating Kajal's perfect engagement outfit with a heirloom sari was simply exquisite. Here she shares her journey with us, from the moment she said I DO, till her big day... not to forget the even bigger day yet to come!!
I have to say, getting engaged was something I had not spent much time thinking about, so when my partner, Steven proposed to me on the 15th April 2016 I was completely surprised! It was all rather emotional and very surreal, and we couldn’t wait to share the news with our friends and family.
Coming from two different cultures: Indian and Irish, we knew straight away that our engagement needed to reflect both our worlds and personalities. We decided that we wanted to have a low-key but traditional Indian engagement, or Sagai, but also wanted it to feel relaxed, informal and enjoyable. The Sagai itself, would take place at my parents house, followed by a lunch and drinks, but then for us all to head to a local garden pub, where we could invite a few more friends and let our hair down! For us, the idea of having all our friends and family together in one place was an important one; the chance to meet, and get to know one another was really important.
When it came to outfits, I wanted to do something a little bit different.
My style has always leaned towards the vintage and the past.
I have spent many afternoons, going through my mum’s old sari collections; I loved the silk fabrics and the delicate embroidery.
After doing some research to different outfit styles on line, I decided, I wanted to have a go at creating something bespoke and original, but using one of my mum’s old sari’s. There was one I particularly loved: a bright blue banasari silk sari, with a bright pink border and silver embroidery. I had worn this sari once before, and always loved it. The outfit for me had to be elegant, not too busy, comfortable, but also something a little more modern than your typical lengha. I did some research on line and using Pinterest, and I came across a dress that represented exactly what I wanted.
The colour scheme matched the colours in my mum’s sari, and so once I had found all the extra pieces of fabric, it was just about finding the perfect tailor, who could bring my vision to life. Shilpa was recommended to me by the woman we bought our fabrics from – she could see I wanted someone who understood not only traditional Indian textile and design but someone who could create something a little more cutting edge and fashionable. I contacted Shilpa straight away, and arranged a meet, so that we could discuss the ideas I had. After our first meeting, I knew straight away that Shilpa understood exactly what I was after. I think what reassured me further was Shilpa’s love for the old fabrics and patterns, like myself, but bringing them into a western, more modern style. Something which really impressed me was how important the details were to her: the cut of the neckline, the shape of the buttons, the pleats in the skirt – it is details like this which are also so important to me, and I knew I had left my mum’s old sari in very safe hands.
Something I also discussed with Shilpa was, although this dress was for an Indian event, I wanted to be able to wear it at non-Indian events too. I hadn’t planned on changing for the evenings pub event, after the Sagai at home, and so I wanted my outfit to be one I could wear, anywhere – Indian, or otherwise!
She took my measurements and we sketched out some designs for the blouse and skirt, and a few weeks later, I was back in her studio to try on the first cuttings of the outfit. Even though the outfit was not finished yet, this first fitting was really great – the way the blouse was cut, it fit so perfectly with my body; Shilpa had taken into consideration the movement of my arm, so that the fabric wouldn’t pinch in an odd way, or feel tight. I just felt so reassured at that point, and just couldn’t wait to try on the finished piece! A few weeks later, I was able to pick up my complete outfit and I was so so so happy! I have never worked with a tailor and designer who paid so much attention to the finishes and through little touches and extra flourishes, my Sagai outfit turned out better than I could have ever imagined.
I couldn’t wait to wear it! I loved that Shilpa was able to combine my mum’s treasured, vintage sari with a modern, yet classic design – in my eyes, a truly timeless piece.
The Sagai itself was a pretty wonderful, and highly emotional day. Everyone commented on how beautiful the dress was. I absolutely loved wearing my bespoke House of Bilimoria outfit – I couldn’t stop twirling! It was exactly what I wanted, and more. Thank you Shilpa, for understanding what it is I wanted from my outfit, and for bringing my vision to life. Next stop – wedding!
The blouse was made with a more western fashion style in mind. I didn’t want it to be too fitted, or too short, but something I could pair with other skirts too. The dupatta was trimmed with a pink and silver mirrored ribbon, to enhance the details in the skirt. The skirt (my favourite part of the outfit) was box pleated, so that it would fall with more volume and sit comfortably on the hip. But it was also, finished with the original border from the sari, in a belt style, to really elevate the beauty of the fabric and the print. I paired it with some classic kundan jewellery to bring it back to a more traditional and classic style. Thank you SO much Shilpa!