Twelve years ago when Mumbai-based couturiers Monica Shah and Karishma Swali started their fashion label Jade with monochromatic bridal ensembles it baffled everyone. It was the time when reds were the quintessential bridal colour. And the duo wasn’t here to follow trends but to thoughtfully visualise their unique and statement-driven bridal ensembles. They introduced nudes, pastels, earthy browns and reds, mint green, champagne and platinum with a refined taste that gracefully balanced old aesthetics and modern silhouettes. Creating dreamy, ethereal, free-spirited and youthful looks on heirloom fabrics intricately woven with precious gold and silver, the couturiers have successfully created a niche in the constantly changing fashion world. Having dressed the likes of Alia Bhatt, Genelia D’Souza, Kiara Advani and Parineeti Chopra among many others, the designers are very popular among tinsel town divas. The designer duo is continuously expanding and creating designs that stand the test of time and so is their summer/festive collection, A Summer Memoir, featuring a diverse selection of ensembles — gowns and lehengas. From refreshing red to tranquil turquoise and pearly pink, the collection offers glamorous ensembles for every modern bride. We speak to the designers about the collection, digital fashion shows, fashion during amidst the pandemic and much more. Excerpts:
How do you define fashion?
Monica: Fashion, for me, is a form of self-expression. And therefore, the only rule that matters is to wear what makes you feel happy, confident, empowered and yourself. It’s an art, and a beautiful way to celebrate our stories, our journey and our heritage.
What was the inspiration for the edit?
Karishma: The inspiration has been the ‘Jade Bride’ herself. We wanted to showcase ensembles for the modern Indian bride, who maintains a new age perspective but also wants to honour her roots and heritage. The ensembles balance contemporary and traditional aesthetics, unique colour palettes and a sense of versatility.
How do you perceive this digital makeover of the fashion industry amid pandemic?
Monica: I think despite its many challenges, this digital makeover has brought brands closer to many more people across the country and the world.
Karishma: We have seen a growth in our NRI as well as pan-India clientele as a result of strengthening our digital initiatives.
The collection presents your statement artisanal craftwork, how did you manage to retain it in the pandemic?
Monica: After the initial standstill, we were fortunate to have brides from across the world reach out to us for their bridal ensembles. But throughout it all, we took care of our artisans and their well-being, knowing fully well that these setbacks are temporary. We ensured their safety and well-being.
How has the pandemic affected the demand for bridal wear?
Karishma: I like the fact that bridal wear has become a much more personal affair now. Rather than shying away from bridal ensembles, brides are taking a keener interest in what they will wear on their big day. There’s a renewed focus on comfort, versatility and uniqueness — values that we have always maintained in our creations since day one. We have always sought to create ensembles that are modern yet rooted in tradition, versatile and comfortable. The pandemic, if anything, has only put more focus on these values.
The fashion industry is now focusing on sustainability; how do you ensure the same in your collection?
Karishma: We don’t believe in nor promote fast fashion and mass-produced garments. Even our prêt and diffusion line is all about mindful luxury — choosing pieces you fall in love with and treasure for a lifetime. The most sustainable approach to fashion is to choose garments that stand the test of time.
There is immense competition in the fashion industry. What helps you stay relevant?
Monica: Staying true to our DNA, listening to our brides and catering to the needs of the brides of today rather than what’s trending.
When working in a team, creative differences are bound to happen.How do you handle this?
Monica: We understand that the brand is more important than anything else. As long as we’re working towards that common goal, the differences align and resolve themselves eventually!
RS10,00,000 onwards. jadebymk.com