ISLAMABAD: The winter clothes trunks and suitcases have been opened and our fancy wear is out, right in time for the opening of the wedding season.
Much like fashion, food and music, weddings can be subject to trends, and in Pakistan, where weddings and culture are intertwined through familial customs, society and centuries of South Asian history, trends can play either definitive or suggestive roles in wedding aesthetics.
“I think wedding trends are defined in our part of the world,” says Hamza Bokhari, creative director of Jeem. “There are certain kinds of silhouettes that people want, keeping in mind our body types and of course cultural restraints, but I think (now) people are tired of pastel clothes, and multithread work on top of them. Color is going to make a huge comeback — people are, after half a decade, really starting to enjoy wearing color and going back to (rich fabrics) such as tissues, raw silks, and ethnic choices.
Dupattas are also making a return, shawls will be huge this wedding season, elaborate shawls with perhaps plainer suits such as designer Waseem Khan exhibits. Brides and grooms, and wedding attendees are going to mix and match their heirloom pieces.”
But it’s the timelessness and heirloom drive behind bridals that makes fashion editor and stylist Mehek Saeed wary of the term “bridal trends.”
“Wedding wear in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world is generally conservative and follows certain cultural norms and traditions. There’s a lot at stake when you’re putting together your wedding look (oodles of money and also pictures that will stay with you for ever) so people tend to experiment less,” said Saeed.
“This means that trends are seldom at play when designers put together their collections, and that’s why putting together a ‘bridal trends for the year’ feature makes little to no sense. It’s true that there were numerous black bridals on the ramp this year and there was a lot of gota but I don’t know if they can be called ‘wedding wear trends.’ When picking a designer for a bridal people generally pick an aesthetic that appeals to them and represents them most — not a trend they like.”
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Reama Malik of Gold by Reama Malik, who creates bespoke bridal wear, shared the same thought when it came to bridal fashion: “You want to look your best, so really you can’t follow any trend.”
“Everything is still ‘in’ — people love to do super-traditional but you’re seeing a more refined, minimalistic wedding where it’s contemporary and traditional in the right amount,” said stylist and consultant Anaum Hammad. “I would say it’s the same with clothes — the whole approach is becoming more restrained. Being decked from top to bottom is kind of dying down, though not completely because there are still brides who do love to go above and beyond because a wedding day is so special for a bride, groom and their families and they maintain that sentiment.”
In recent years weddings themselves have experienced something of a revamp, with families opting out of events that last days and aiming for shorter celebrations, a trend which seems to have cemented itself in the wedding world.
“I think it’s great that couples are trying to modernize the traditional wedding,” said Shazreh Khalid of Zareen and Shazreh Khalid Events. “For instance, combining the mehndi and shahdi or rukhsakti together into one event. It’s cost-effective and it’s just one event your guests have to attend, and not days and days of wedding events. Though businesswise it’s not amazing (she laughs) because you get to do all these different events for regular clients, but practicality-wise it’s a great trend and I am completely for it!”
It’s a sentiment shared by Hammad: “People are moving toward fewer events, they’re less time-consuming, more cost-effective, and feasible. People prefer to do something that’s smaller instead of having extensive wedding celebrations that last up to weeks and even at times months on end. Things that are less lavish, and are spending more resources, whether it’s time or money, on the actual marriage rather than the wedding.”
The trend of shortening weddings is one that may reflect the new generation of brides and grooms.
“People are becoming more practical, particularly from (this generation getting married.) Whether it’s a shandi (the mehndi and shahdi hybrid) or a daytime event, they are trying to adopt a more Western wedding culture. It is a beautiful balance because you still have all the color and tradition like rasms (traditions) but condensed,” said Hammad. “It’s now, more than ever, about the bride and groom, then who to please and who to invite. Less of a show and more of a wedding celebration that is about the happiness and union of two people!’’