Fishing In New Waters: Akaaro Launches Its First-Ever Bridal Line
The new collection breaks away from tradition to make bridal wear functional, modern and even spiritual
“Technically, I have been working on ‘Meen’ since 2014; it is an ongoing body of work,” Gaurav Jai Gupta confesses, as his brand Akaaro launches its first full-fledged bridal line of 16 ensembles. This New Delhi based textiles-first brand and collection focuses on lightweight lehengas (all with pockets!) in handspun and handwoven silk with 5gm gold zari yarn. This is couture quality yarn, raising the ensembles to heirloom status without the usual fuss of surface embellishments. Heritage embroideries like dabka and zardozi have been sparingly used thoughtfully to finish the pieces. It is bridal wear–but also for bridesmaids and mother-of-the-brides.
During Gupta’s research for his ‘Origins’ fashion show held in 2008 by British Council in London, he wasn’t interested in converting his textiles into clothes yet. The highlight was very much on the fabrics. The role of Indian textiles within Indian spiritual texts fascinated him endlessly. In specific—the story of Lord Vishnu’s avatar called Matsya, Sanskrit for fish (as is the word Meen) was of great interest.
Study of fish scales and their glistening skin now finds its presence in the chevron stripes he uses. Nocturnal, moonlight reflections on urban water bodies (pictures of which he shoots and collects) inspired the addition of zari to the weave of the silk itself. To engineer that same luminosity, the night-reflecting-on-water quality to the fabrics is where the story begins for him. Few other design houses would spend so much time on base fabrics; it’s not all for eccentric perfection though. In the last few years, this particular ‘liquid gold’ fabric by him has become a bit of a brand touch-point. Roughly 200 pieces from that collection were sold during the pandemic alone.
Meen, Motifs And More
Akaaro’s previous iterations of lehengas have been purposely styled with kimonos or sneakers; he wasn’t positioning them as bridal wear. “To find a unique language of embroideries for Akaaro kept me on hold.” Gupta points out that most occasion wear from India heavily references Mughal or typical Indian motifs. He thinks in the future and about geometry, and that exploration took time. With ‘Meen’, he certainly seems to have found it. There is also something else he’s found–Gupta got married to fellow fashion designer Surbhi Gupta in July this year. The bride wore what became the prototype for this collection and perhaps their first collaboration. Surbhi helped him develop the embroideries. Akaaro’s Instagram captions credit her at the end of each ‘Meen’ look: “With Surbhi”.
“The bridal line was in the works, but our wedding certainly accelerated the process.” After several disappointing rounds of stores in Delhi in the middle of a pandemic to buy their own wedding wear, the bride and groom decided to take matters into their own hands, quite literally. The brief read ‘something pure and authentic’. With Akaaro’s library of textiles and Surbhi’s expertise with embroideries, a new look was finalised. Looking at occasion wear purely from a consumers’ point of view has changed the design process for him.
“Weddings are exhausting, and a large part of the problem is the heavy lehenga!” He wants brides to be able to enjoy their day without adding to their woes. And so, these lightweight, pocketed pieces are his offerings.
Price range for Meen—Rs 75,000 to Rs 1,50,000; available on Akaaro.com