Shantnu & Nikhil© Shantnu & Nikhil

Shantnu & Nikhil Dish Out Bridal Tips For Cocktail Night Dressing

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

The India Couture Week has now officially drawn to a close after a course of nine days and having some of the best couturiers in the country give us a glimpse of what we can expect from the upcoming wedding season.

One of the most breathtaking showcases was of ace designer duo Shantnu and Nikhil, who presented their collection ‘Etheria’ on the runway. “Etheria, takes inspiration from the captivating allure of 1920s Italy. During this time, free-flowing silhouettes and luxe occasion wear were on the rise. Etheria is a translation of the modern-day cocktail bride, emphasising heavy embellishments and free-flowing silhouettes,” says Shantnu. “Our creative ideas often blossom during our journeys, and this particular trip holds a special place in our hearts as it gave birth to this exquisite collection. Catania, and the enchanting Sicilian Region, exude a captivating old-world charm, with awe-inspiring ruins that narrate majestic stories of the past.”

Shantnu & Nikhil with Sara Ali Khan and Aditya Roy Kapoor©Shantnu & Nikhil

The designers’ collections have always been about fusing Indian craftsmanship with western influences, and this time they’ve looked towards the architecture of Sicily for inspiration. “At its core, the hand-embroidered garments are a testament to the artistry and heritage of Indian craftsmanship. Each ensemble showcases intricate motifs from the Baroque palaces using techniques reminiscent of a bygone era,” said Nikhil, of the collection.

For the upcoming wedding season, the designers envision brides taking the ‘modern with a traditional twist’ route. “We see a lot of monochrome metallics but also the occasional pop of colour in bridal silhouettes. Playing around with blouses and necklines is something brides often look forward to, creating a modern silhouette and flattering neckline, to pair it well with jewellery. Brides are also ditching the lehenga for gowns, more than ever! Lastly, heavy embellishments are taking centre stage and simultaneously being styled with minimal jewellery as they believe in letting the outfit speak for itself.”

Shantnu & Nikhil©Shantnu & Nikhil

But while being on trend is important, the designers caution that it’s also essential for brides to consider the timelessness of their often-expensive bridal outfits. “I would definitely advise brides to invest in something that you can get multiple wears out of and something that can be dressed up and down depending on the occasion,” said Nikhil. “You just don’t want your prized possession of an outfit sitting in your storage after one wear! We also tell brides to look at their ensemble all together but also in parts so that each can be styled differently, such as the heavy lehenga skirt can be paired with a white shirt or a heavy blouse can be paired with a plush silk plain sari.”

Shantnu & Nikhil©Shantnu & Nikhil

Seeing their collection of stunning couture gowns on the runway this time around, it’s only fair that they leave us with some tips on how a bride can find the perfect gown for her cocktail night. Thankfully for us, the designers happily oblige…

Shantnu & Nikhil’s Guide to Cocktail Dressing For Brides

Colour is important

It goes without saying that the colour of your gown is very important. Since it’s for a cocktail night, you can play around and experiment with different colours with ease, like they’ve done in their new collection. The designers stated, “Etheria plays with darker tones like Royal Navy, Charcoal grey, and Flaming Red—crafted for the cocktail bride who dazzles through the enchanted evening.” But for those who don’t prefer those shades, they also have offerings in softer, pastel palettes like ice aqua, soft mint, and blush tones.

Think about the shape

The second thing that Shantnu & Nikhil advise you is to pay attention to the shape and silhouette of your cocktail gown. Think about what you’re most comfortable in and go for it. “Select something that is not too heavy on the cancan or too figure-hugging as cocktail evenings are high-velocity nights of dance and you want to be able to enjoy it.”

Shantnu & Nikhil©Shantnu & Nikhil

Go for a gown with a slit

If you’re up for it, then go for a gown with a slit. It doesn’t have to be too daring and can just be a functional slit to allow you to move easily. “Having a slit is often great for both aesthetic as well as movement,” states Nikhil.

Think about the photographs!

Last, but definitely not the least, think about your event decor and how you will photograph against it. As Shantnu succinctly puts it, “Make sure that you don’t merge with your decor!” There you have it!