Ace designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra on 20 years in fashion and advocating anti-trend couture

While the world adjusted to a new definition of normal with the pandemic in place, the two brought in the 20th year with a new vertical — S&N by Shantanu and Nikhil

author_img Priyanka Chandani Published :  21st January 2022 03:00 AM   |   Published :   |  21st January 2022 03:00 AM
Designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra

Designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra

For the last 20 years, if any fashion couturiers have restlessly toiled around the idea of a new world, a world more progressive and inclusive, a world without any biases and boundaries, it is Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra. From reinventing the classic bridal wear and infusing timeless designs with unique elements and contemporary ease to even collaborations with brands like Obeetee, they have stayed relevant with the demands and needs of the constantly shifting fashionscape. In the last decade of their journey, the designer duo has paved the way to reach a newer and bigger audience, making their brand more accessible to global customers. While the world adjusted to a new definition of normal with the pandemic in place, the two brought in the 20th year with a new vertical — S&N by Shantanu and Nikhil, a celebratory narrative where Indian heritage is enlivened by millennial spunk! And launching this new chapter is their latest bridal collection Ceremonial Edit. Reflecting on their brand mantra of staying relevant always, they have incorporated intricate details, a decadent colour palette, and asymmetrical drapes that make for the ideal all-day wedding ensembles in this collection. Featuring their latest festive couture in neo-bandhgalas, sherwanis, draped kurtas, cocktail lehengas and anarkali gowns reinterpreted in soft textures and modern silhouettes, it is a fitting portrayal of today’s millennial bride and groom — playful, spontaneous, composed and confident. We caught up with the designer duo to talk more about their latest collection, 20 years of the brand and its evolution, fashion in times of pandemic, fashion trends and more…

It’s been 20 years in the fashion industry. Walk us through your journey so far.

Shantanu: 2020 was a year of ardent emotions for us, as Maison Shantanu & Nikhil celebrated 20 years of its brand existence. From democratising fashion to now revolutionising celebration wear with, we as a brand continues to further our edgy, global narrative! That said, competition often fuels the motivation to thrive towards bigger goals and we are glad that we have so many creative voices and designs around us who inspire us every day. Constant introspection and appreciation for others is the key to relevancy. We can’t be ignorant towards new trends, we have to constantly evolve and be the better version of ourselves. The deep-seated emotion of being ‘anti-trend’ within our brand gives us a sense of elasticity to continuously reinvent. Being trend-centric is market-driven but being anti-trend is about driving the market and that’s our philosophy. We believe that disruption and innovation are the only two pillars that we as a brand stand on from creating an unconventional space for couture to revolutionising the male ceremonial wardrobe; we continue to put constant effort to stay relevant and showcase brand resiliency.

Weddings have become very intimate since the pandemic. How has that impacted the demand for bridal couture?

Nikhil: In the post-pandemic landscape, design has become paramount. We as a brand have always been strong advocates of anti-trend couture, where the focus is on neo-shapes, silhouettes, minimalism and of course on the wearer. Weddings have become far more personal as occasions and brides and grooms have had to curb a lot of their wedding dreams in light of the current situation. Thus, there is this natural urge to compensate for that through their ensembles, more now than ever. Be it the bride and groom or an attendee, they are all looking at timeless pieces with unique detailing and a sense of contemporary ease. That said, India has always been a country of celebrations and there is nothing more celebratory than an Indian wedding. In that subtext no matter what the situation, we feel celebration wear as a market is back up on its feet, sooner than we imagined. Especially now, since there are few attendees and people have an intimate environment where they can notice each outfit with an eye for detail.

You are known for unique detailing. Tell us what to expect with the new collection.

Nikhil: We envision our creations in a way that it comprises eternal elements. We love to play around with faux or vegan leather, antique coin details and everything metal. Our ceremonial wear lately has been a gamut of styles where you can see intricate work using more antique gold metallic details, tonal embroideries, brocade and Swarovski crystals.

Would you say that the sari is the easiest to style and works for everyone?

Shantanu: Why not mention a more gender-neutral piece of clothing, it could be a drape kurta or a structured bandhgala jacket? These classic silhouettes flatter everyone and everybody types. You know how it’s said that a man in a suit and a woman in a sari feel their most confident selves. We truly believe our draped kurta or the signature bandhagala amplifies the emotion one feels like wearing their traditional attire while adding a hint of fluidity and modern sexiness to it.

What’s the biggest misconception that Indian women have about fashion?

Shantanu: Honestly, it isn’t just Indian women who harbour misconceptions with regard to fashion. We’ve noticed a lot of people hopping onto trends, believing that it is the sole way one can stay relevant. A trend for one person could be a faux pas for another. It’s essential for one to recognise the right style and fit for themselves. One should stay away from over-exaggerated details and bling, and rather opt for sartorial silhouettes. Crisp classics can be reinvented and bought to use always. While the entire world is moving towards a sustainable approach, trend jumping isn’t the right path for smart consumption.