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Red is regal

February 01, 2013

Meesha Shafi wears Sublime by Sara.–Photo Courtesy Dawn All About Lifestyles

Weddings in Pakistan are celebratory affairs, bringing families together for days — even weeks — of song and dance and traditional festivities. And all planning leads up to the main day, the baraat, in which the bride is ‘given away’. This day, like any wedding day for any young girl in the world, is considered the most important day of her life and she prepares to look best for it. The colour of her wedding dress is monumental.

Red is mandatory, even for a celebrity.–Photo Courtesy Dawn All About Lifestyles

A bride is at her radiant best in red, or at least that’s what we believe in Pakistan. Red is traditional, it is lucky and it is the most popular colour of preference amongst brides. While the colour red may have both positive and negative connotations world wide, here in the sub continent we associate it with joy and prosperity.

Often paired with green, which symbolises fertility, the red-green combination is also considered very auspicious. It’s very common for brides to wear red and green for their nikkah as well; we saw Kareena Kapoor wear a green ensemble paired with a brilliant red dupatta the day she and Saif Ali Khan tied the knot. This side of the border, Club Caramel’s Kiran Chaudhry recently got married in a traditional lehnga set in shades of red.

The old school of thought emphasises on red as the only colour to wear. And while not everyone is superstitious, no bride wants to risk invoking a lifetime of bad luck by opting for a different colour to be wed in. But while traditionalists still adhere to red as the only colour acceptable for brides, designers are bringing in accents of modernity for young girls who prefer a balance of traditional and contemporary styles. Their options are traditional without appearing obsolete or out-dated.

“I like my brides to be traditional, wearing red on their wedding day, says Shehla Chatoor, whose wedding ensembles are popular across the country. “What I do not like is head to toe red. I generally use ivories, beautiful peaches, olives, corals or even champagne golds to break all red. I’d give my bride a gharara and dupatta in shades of red, but then I’d keep the shirt a lovely champagne gold. If the entire bridal outfit is salmon or peach then just the dupatta can be a beautiful red.”

“I think a classic red always looks good and it’s interesting to pair it with a second colour like a chocolate brown gharara,” says Nida Azwer, another designer who is known for her contemporary take on bridals. “It gives the outfit a modern twist and a very regal modern look.”

Designer Sania Maskatiya's wedding look.–Photo Courtesy Dawn All About Lifestyles

Misha Lakhani, a younger designer who recently made her debut with an impressive bridal collection at fashion week, belongs to the same school of thought. “Old is gold and red looks best when complemented by different textures and shades of rani pink, rust, plum, green and coral,” she says.

Red is synonymous with strength and grandeur and regal is exactly what a bridal ensemble needs to look. It is often paired with gold, as gold stands for prosperity amongst all cultures, especially Asian. Red and gold are considered the emperor’s colours in China as well as the entire Pacific belt. In traditional Japanese weddings, the bride has to change several colours: her first kimono is usually white (symbolising death) and then she changes to red, which stands for her rebirth into her husband’s family.

As opposed to the western wedding gown, which is almost always white, Asian brides avoid white as it is associated with death, grief and mourning. Even brides wearing white on the second day of their marriage, the valima, opt for a shade closer to ivory, cream and gold as opposed to a stark white.

“My interpretation of the classic bridal red is a timeless sense of elegance associated with the bride wearing this rich, warm and luxurious colour,” says Sania Maskatiya, another young designer who has gained immense popularity with her bridals in the past two years. “It embodies cultural significance along with traditional ties. I like to use the deeper shades of red with traditional work and play with the silhouettes in a bridal jora.”

“Red as a colour has always been associated with festivity and celebration all over the world,” agrees Sara Shahid. “In the subcontinent it is an age-old tradition for a bride to wear red, it also suits and complements most skin tones. At Sublime my favourite tone has always been a deeper rich shade of red which I love to use and compliment with dull gold antique work. It gives a very rich and classic look.” -

 (Published in Dawn's All About Lifestyle)