What could more precious for a bride than to wear her mother’s wedding clothes on her big day? Each piece she carefully packed away carries a story of hope and love, and you get to add to the special memories.
What could more precious for a bride than to wear her mother’s wedding clothes on her big day? Each piece she carefully packed away carries a story of hope and love, and you get to add to the special memories. Not to say, you’d have gorgeous #throwback pictures to pour over. Of course, the trends have changed since then, but that needn’t stop you from reinventing the look. Couturier JJ Valaya shares tips on how to rewear and reinvent the garments in your own style.
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen quite a lot of young girls—whose mothers were Valaya brides—bringing their outfits back to contemporise them,” he shares. “These garments are often in mint condition, and with a little cut here and there, you can maintain the tradition.”
Valaya’s first advice is to try and leave the garment as is, and simply go for a refitting. “There’s a lot of emotional warmth in getting to wear what your mother got married in. I want the piece to remain as untouched as possible because there is a purity, beauty, and history to it. But when the fabric doesn't stand the test of time, we work around it to make it beautiful and more relevant.”
The best part about old lehengas is that they were designed with gathers and drawstrings—while today’s pieces have panels and belts. This means that the skirt can fit any waist and hip size, and you may only need the length to be readjusted. “We add an antique metallic fabric to the end, and an embroidery pattern that compliments the craftsmanship of the piece.”
If the material has become weak, the only option is to remove the embroidered or woven parts and appliqué them onto new fabric. “At most, we will rework on the embroidered piece or develop a fresh pattern that is as close to the original. We then put this onto a new fabric.”
THE PERFECT PAIR
“When wearing an inherited dupatta, you need pair it with a metallic fabric to accentuate it. The choice of material is very important because 99% of the time, the old piece will includesuchi zari—real silver or gold embroidery,” he shares. “Always go to a reputable store to get good Banarasi fabric, and use it to make a kurta-churidaar, lehenga, or a sexy blouse.”
The options are endless—you could go for a simple gold fabric, or something that is woven with a texture to it. “Keep it very vintage with a modern twist,” he advises. “And I don't think you should try pairing it with jersey or knits—there are plenty of other occasions to do that.”
SWITCH IT UP
Once in a while, you may need to have the piece opened up and restitched. When it comes to an old blouse, often the fabric on the inside would be fresher than on the outside. “The first thing to do is reinforce the fabric. The piece is opened out, fusing is applied, and a new pattern is made because the darts shift,” he says.
“At this stage, we can re-craft the whole thing. It’s a skilled work because manipulating darts is the most important for fittings.” The design can be personalised, too—you can cut the sleeves, change the neckline, adjust the size, and appliqué the embroidery onto a fresh piece.
But given how delicate the work is, it’s best to take it to an expert who understands textile and how to work with an antique piece.
Valaya adds, “In an ideal situation, touch it as less as you can—that is my number one advice, Work on the sizing, play with tassels and detailing, and strengthen the fabric, but keep it as close to the original as possible.”