From clothing to accessories, bows are among Spring/Summer 2018’s most noticeable details, but it doesn’t take a fashion insider to understand that this isn’t a new look. From hair accessories for women to the self-referential men’s bow ties, and certainly dresses, bows have enjoyed a long, storied run through centuries of costume transformation, particularly in Europe. Right from the reign of Elizabeth I in the 16th century, when women wore bows in their hair, to 19th century France, when portraits of women show ribbon bows perched firmly on their bodices.

Though, historically, men and boys have worn the bow, it has come to represent unabashed femininity. Blame it on the 19th century gowns as much as Lanvin models and a bevy of Hollywood stars, from Joan Crawford to Marilyn Monroe, but bows are often associated with vintage dresses and larger-than-life gowns. In recent seasons, designers have reinterpreted the detail at its whimsical best, playing with shape and size. For spring this year, Emilia Wickstead juxtaposed candy pink bows on bright red dresses, and Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli added statement knots in his fashion-forward couture collection. Hair accessories and shoes too had their share of bow adornments, thanks to designers like Ryan Lo, Rodarte, and Giorgio Armani.

But it was perhaps in India that bows emerged real winners as designers recreated the trimmings as part of varied ensembles—including sari blouses—and in a mix of textiles, including local handlooms that gave the familiar prim trimming a droopy effect. Here’s a look at the Indian take on bows in fashion, and a hint of jewellery.

Small is beautiful

Buna

The bows in Buna’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection may reveal themselves only on close observation, so minute are the details. Titled Threads Of Wind, the collection is an ode to Jamdani weaves with delicate motifs of clouds and birds in flight. The bows add tone-on-tone 3D appeal, positioned on straps, below buttonholes, and on the back.

One of India’s most well-known jewellery designers, Suhani Pittie makes the bow a recurrent motif in her new line of everyday statement jewellery.
One of India’s most well-known jewellery designers, Suhani Pittie makes the bow a recurrent motif in her new line of everyday statement jewellery.

Bows in baubles

Suhani Pittie

One of India’s most well-known jewellery designers, Suhani Pittie makes the bow a recurrent motif in her new line of everyday statement jewellery, Sleek Escapes. The classic bow makes a playful appearance on slim necklaces of varying lengths, open cuffs, and drop earrings in silver and rose-gold plating.

Colour-blocked stripes are central to designer Suman B.’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
Colour-blocked stripes are central to designer Suman B.’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

Tying up loose ends

Lola by Suman B

Colour-blocked stripes are central to designer Suman B.’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection Verano (“summer" in Spanish). The linear geometry of this maxi dress is offset by ribbon straps passing through gold hoops to finish in a minimal bow at the back.

Kolkata-based designer Sneha Arora adds bows as tie-ups for skirts and cross-body blouses, and on the backs of dresses and tops.
Kolkata-based designer Sneha Arora adds bows as tie-ups for skirts and cross-body blouses, and on the backs of dresses and tops.

Pull a contouring act on ensembles

Sneha Arora

Kolkata-based designer Sneha Arora adds bows as tie-ups for skirts and cross-body blouses, and on the backs of dresses and tops. “We combined contrasting colours as highlight details on the silhouette," says Arora. “Once tied up, they also serve to contour the structure of the garments."

Founder Anjali Patel Mehta uses the bow on silk blouses paired with flouncy trousers, skirts and even saris.
Founder Anjali Patel Mehta uses the bow on silk blouses paired with flouncy trousers, skirts and even saris.

Silk bows for laid-back appeal

Verandah

In Verandah’s flamboyant tiger-inspired cruise collection for the year, founder Anjali Patel Mehta uses the bow on silk blouses paired with flouncy trousers, skirts and even saris. “The bow is a feminine statement, but I wanted to give it a relaxed, vacation-ready spin,"
she says.

In Karishma Shahani Khan’s  brightly-hued designs, bows double as tie-ups and highlights.
In Karishma Shahani Khan’s brightly-hued designs, bows double as tie-ups and highlights.

Play with proportion

Ka-Sha

In Karishma Shahani Khan’s brightly-hued designs, bows double as tie-ups and highlights. The focus is on proportion and contrast—a yellow overlap jacket features big blue bows while red bows enliven a pale cream jacket.

Nicobar’s Bentota collection is a tryst with Sri Lanka.
Nicobar’s Bentota collection is a tryst with Sri Lanka.

Swap buttons for bows

Nicobar

Nicobar’s Bentota collection is a tryst with Sri Lanka. Clever details punctuate the minimal designs, like a bow on the back of this blouse edged with floral embroidery.

Close