The Aashni+Co bridal exhibition took London’s Dorchester Hotel by storm over the weekend. Hundreds of soon to be brides descended on Park Lane for the annual show which featured a number of designers who flew in to the capital to help brides make that all important decision.
When it comes to Asian wedding season – yes there is such a thing – you can bet any money that bridal shows will leave even the most independent woman slyly snapping a couple of pics for “inspiration.”
Asiana pulled out all the stops once again and held their annual Bridal Show at the Lancaster Hotel in London last weekend. Adorning every twist and turn were intricately designed gowns, jaw dropping decor and show stopping cakes.
For most of these exhibitions, the fashion show is well and truly the highlight for most visitors. However for me it was all about meeting the exhibitors, speaking to them about their venture, how they got started and what it means when they’re apart of someone’s special day.
Asiana have pulled together some familiar faces but also some new businesses who bring with them fresh, exhilarating offers that no doubt set trends alight within the Asian wedding sector.
BIBI London, Kyles Collection, Ziggi Menswear and Mehzabeen were there representing the best in Asian bridal-wear and jewellery. A common thread amongst the designers was the flexibility to adapt and tailor your dream wedding dress to your taste. Whether you’re changing the colour, lengthening or shortening, the designers and owners of the brands exhibiting were on hand for one to one talks and suggestions on how to achieve that ideal wedding gown.
Decor has a very special role to play in any wedding. It sets a scene, creates a buzz and ambiance. It takes real talent and creative flair to interpret and produce a truly memorable setting. Spectrum, Zara’s and Maz Events blew me away with their displays at the Bridal Show. Without delving into my thesaurus to describe just how decadent they were, I’ll let the following pictures do the talking.
Spread across a few floors of the Lancaster it really was a well thought out exhibition with surprises at every twist and turn. Will couples planning to marry find this exhibition useful? Absolutely. And even if you’re not getting married, there’s no harm in exploring what the Asian wedding market has to offer.
One thing that always fascinated me with fashion designers was their journey into the industry. That defining moment where they realised this was the start to the rest of their lives. Whether they’re a French powerhouse or an emerging Indian talent, that drive to succeed is a common thread that runs deeply throughout them all. On Sunday, a number of designers both new and established from India descended on London for the Aashni + Co bridal exhibition, one of the most anticipated fashion events so far in 2015.
What I loved about this event was the accessibility to designers that most of us have grown up hearing about and admiring.
Happy to talk about their collections, it was an absolute pleasure to finally meet the likes of Tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra.
Asking him who he would love to dress on the day, Sabyasachi answered without hesistation: “Very simple. I was always a huge Madonna fan. Madonna for sure and Frida Kahlo.”
In the run up to the show I was fortunate enough to get a few words from some of the other designers who shared their delight at tapping into the British Asian market.
“I’ve been retailing at Aashni for a while and it’s extremely exciting because so many of us are coming for one bridal show and I’ve not ventured into having a stand in London. I’ve done Dubai but I’ve never been to London for a show so it will definitely be an interesting and new market,” says Anushree Reddy.
Starting her career working at a fashion magazine based out of Hyderabad, Anushree studied at London’s LSE and then did her MBA in Cardiff before working her way up to editor. After marrying, she longed for a business of her own and thought about designing. “I am not academically qualified in any way to be a designer,” she said laughing. “I wanted to have my own little business and said why not try designing. I had no idea what I was doing. People bought whatever I sold and it’s been about 4 and half years now.”
Considering the calibre of designers under one roof, each brought with them exceptional collections with items suited both for weddings and other occasions. In fact rather than partake in friendly competition, there was a sense of camaraderie, which is very humbling to see amongst peers in a very demanding industry.
“I feel that competition only helps you get better. Firstly you’re focused on what you’re doing, you want to any which way make your product better than your previous collection. At the same time, if you have people around you who are also doing well, I feel that you get all the more motivated,” explained Arpita Mehta.
What I loved about Arpita was her sincerity and the fact that her journey into fashion has been a work in progress, slowly building upon successes. Now, she stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the industry’s heavyweights.
With motivation, comes inspiration like no other. The exhibition was full of collections where visions, passions and skill had been woven together to produce the very best, signature garments.
“For me, I find inspiration everywhere. Every country has its own style. You could be walking in London and there will be something that catches your eye, which inspires you to build a collection around. Even at home in India, inspiration is everywhere as it’s such a rich country full of culture,” said Sonali Gupta.
Having come from a family who has been in the industry, fashion judgement runs deeply in her blood. Furthermore, her studies at Central Saint Martins allowed her to build her own fashion sense and journey down her own personal path rather than studying from books.
The exhibition was not just limited to fashion designers. Zita Elze produced some of the most exquisite floral arrangements I have ever seen in all of the events I’ve been to. Her knack for detail and efforts didn’t go unnoticed by visitors.
Notable hairdresser Aamir Naveed was also on hand to demonstrate classic and chic hair styles suitable for both weddings and special occasions as well as Ambreen who of course always wows us with her flawless make up application.
You only have to look at each designer’s collections to see proof of sheer hard work for an industry they’re passionate about serving. Visitors not only adored meeting them personally, but also took the time to celebrate their work, which suggests that the UK is in need of more luxury Indian designers that are accessible. With Aashni + Co, located in Notting Hill, we don’t have to look any further.
Founder and Creative Director, Aashni, said: “I’m overwhelmed by the atmosphere, the energy and the response here today to a luxe exhibition concept and retail platform of this scale. It was important to feature the right mix of designers and fashion houses, from established A-listers and luxury designers to the most sought after and desirable new generation talent. It is time people stopped travelling all the way to India to find their wedding outfit – we wanted to bring the best of India’s bridal to our doorstep and we’ve achieved that. The response has unanimously been amazing.”
And one that has made us fall in love with the romance of Asian fashion all over again.
I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to 2013’s National Asian Wedding Show, which was probably the case for the crowds of people queuing well before the shutters opened at the London Excel.
There was no such thing as Asian timing where guests were concerned and as this year’s hotly anticipated exhibition got underway, brides-to-be armed with their wing-girls and fiancé’s were eager to see what inspiration they could take away with them.
With over 100 exhibitors plus a much anticipated fashion show, there was plenty to see, do and experience all in one hall. Included within the mix were car hires, lighting, photographers, pop up bars, which served some delicious mocktails, hair and make up, decor and of course, bridal wear.
I quite liked the fact that I appeared more as a bride-to-be dithering around on her own, rather than Press to most people I spoke with, but for those brides that hoped to draw inspiration for their big day, this event well and truly spoilt them for choice as exhibitors from all areas within the Asian wedding industry were out in full blast.
With notable sponsors such as the BBC Asian Network, Roshni Hair and Make Up and the City Pavilion, the organisers truly went to town when putting together an eclectic selection of specialists.
Not only that, guests who attended also got the chance to witness the International Asian Fashion Show.
Attracting what felt like the entire exhibition hall – I literally couldn’t move – designers featured the very best from their collections, drawing oohs and aahs and plenty of smartphone action. Of course the BBC Asian Network’s Noreen Khan was there to introduce the featured designers who would be wowing us with their collections.
Giving us a preview of what was to come in her gorgeous outfit from Fusion, crowds were definitely not left disappointed. I now personally want about 6 dresses for my wedding after seeing the versatility from those Asian designers.
So after attending both the National Asian Wedding Show and the National Wedding Show back in September, which was the better show? In all honesty, there is no clear winner. It’s genuinely down to what you have in mind for your special day.
If you’re looking to incorporate traditional elements then of course a specialist event like the National Asian Wedding Show is the perfect niche exhibition where you can find the right vendor and work with them to create exactly what you have in mind. Similarly, the National Wedding Show boasts the same type of vendors, but of course without that cultural influence.
Would I recommend that brides attend this wedding exhibition? Absolutely. In fact, the National Asian Wedding Show may have swayed it that bit more with me when it comes to the thought, effort and warmth exuded by everyone that I met.
Many of the exhibitors I spoke to have been in the Asian wedding industry for an average of 10 years, so they are well versed in the service they’re offering and are fully aware of emerging trends, which they incorporate and embrace.
The National Asian Wedding Show will be returning in 2014 at the Bradford Hilton on Sunday 12th January, 2014, the Midlands National Motorcycle Museum on Sunday 2nd February and London Heathrow T5 on Sunday 2nd March 2014. The London Excel Show will be back next year on the 18th and 19th October.
For someone who decides to embrace a trend when it’s nearly over, it’s been quite overwhelming staying up to date with current and future fashion trends for Habibi Lifestyle.
I tend to fleet in and out of love with Asian-wear and right now I’m seriously enamoured with the whole extravagance and richness you can only get from a kameez and a sari. The bold mix of colours, exquisite embroidery and overall attention to detail never ceases to amaze me. Likewise can be said for the abundance of jewellery that adds that all important finishing touch.
While some girls have a weakness for shoes, mine is definitely jewellery. Whether it’s authentic Indian or elaborate costume, I always find myself indecisive given the choice.
One trend that I’ve noticed amongst Asian and Middle Eastern girls lately draws its inspiration from traditional Shingar Patti’s and bridal Tikka’s.
For some, this won’t be a new phenomenon. In fact it could just be that I need to be more at one with my fellow Asians and Arabs!
Back to the trend. Jewelled headbands have added a glamourous touch to Eid outfits this year, but rather than splurging on a 24 carat gold shingar patti, high street stores are offering an alternative that can be utilised for the same effect.
Choker and collar necklaces have been gracing accessory shelves for a while and it seems girls are becoming savvier in making their purchases go much further beyond its intended use.
If you’ve yet to succumb to this alternative, here are a few necklaces that can be used as glamourous headbands.
I am an absolute sucker for weddings so naturally I’m aware of the mammoth task of planning and ensuring your very own wedding is as close to perfection as possible. You name it, I’ve probably given it some thought; the dress, the venue, the invitations, the menu, even the table settings. Yes. I told you so.
Flowers have grown to become a staple part of weddings and a number of florists have modernised the traditional feature resulting in truly beautiful floral sculptures and essentially creating a new art form.
Karen Tran is a prime example of this. Based in Southern California, her jaw-dropping floral arrangements takes on a life of its own, injecting vivid colours and the right amount of luxury to any reception table. I love her attention to detail and the way her finished designs captures the essence of each wedding. Whether it’s a vintage glamour theme or a peacock inspired colour scheme, nothing gets in the way of Tran and her art.
As one of America’s leading wedding designers, Karen Tran’s work speaks for itself. Her signature cascading sculptures makes for an eye-capturing centrepiece, adding an abundance of luxury to any wedding she sets her sights to. With collaborations in magazines and even a masterclass for intermediate and advance designers, Tran has expanded her reach far beyond reception halls inspiring a new generation of up and coming wedding planners.