French knots, sequins and illusion netting; a little bit of everything makes everyone happy. Jacket and skirt, Rahul Mishra; sneakers, Tommy Hilfiger; bejewelled earrings, Curio Cottage. (Photo: Sahil Behal)
French knots, sequins and illusion netting; a little bit of everything makes everyone happy. Jacket and skirt, Rahul Mishra; sneakers, Tommy Hilfiger; bejewelled earrings, Curio Cottage. (Photo: Sahil Behal)

The incredible lightness

  • Why should festive wear weigh you down? At a lush wellness resort in the Western Ghats, we showcase our picks of this season’s most buoyant, breezy ‘lehngas’. Put on those sneakers and run free
  • Photographs: Sahil Behal Styling: Akshita Singh Location: Dharana by Shillim

If you have attended your fair share of big fat Indian weddings, there’s a chance you have come across a bride who wore a lehnga so cumbersome that she could barely move.

A popular piece of clothing in Indian bridal and festive wear across north and west India, the idea of the embellished ankle-length skirt—usually worn with a choli (blouse) and dupatta (long scarf)—has metamorphosed over time. Traditionally crafted from embroidered brocade or silk, designers have been experimenting with its construction and surface ornamentation to give the silhouette a fuller shape or flare. This means lehngas are weighed down by heavy embroidery and embellishments. It is not uncommon for one that costs in the region of 2-10 lakh to be worn with a crinoline or tulle underskirt. The result? Immobility.

With the minimalist trend gaining popularity, designers are increasingly bridging the gap between traditional craftsmanship techniques and modern textile engineering to offer lehngas that let the wearer move, run and dance.

At the India Couture Week this July, Tarun Tahiliani’s couture collection Bloom featured lightweight lehngas designed for the bride “who prefers dancing away the night in their wedding ensembles". “We want you to wear this again, with a plain shirt, a turtleneck, something simple—why should you not?" said Tahiliani.

Anita Dongre’s couture collection Jaipur Love also featured many options for lightweight lehngas. Over a call, Dongre clarifies that the lightweight lehnga trend isn’t new for her. “Ever since I founded the brand eight years ago, I have been creating lightweight lehngas for the modern Indian bride to feel comfortable and move around in. The brand’s patrons buy clothes to last beyond their wedding days because they are sustainable consumers," she says.

As the festivities roll in, we showcase our picks of this season’s most buoyant, breezy lehngas. Since it’s all about feeling good, our models, Suzanne and Scarlet, run free—with breaks for tea— in a lush wellness resort nestled in the Western Ghats.

Traditions evolve, and we encourage you to pair your lehngas with denim jackets, sneakers and structured tops. And to run wild and free.

Models:Suzanne Baker/Anima Creative Management, and Scarlet Raphael Achangadan/Feat.Artists

Hair and make-up: Bhagyashree Vaid


Surprise yourself with unexpected pairings. Zip up a bustier over a satin shirt or throw on a denim jacket. On Suzanne (left): teal woven ‘lehnga’, Raw Mango; beaded bustier, SVA by Sonam And Paras Modi; red satin shirt, 431-88 by Shweta Kapur; gold earrings, Varnika Arora; two-tone shoes, Berliegh. On Scarlet: threadwork embroidery ‘lehnga’, Nachiket Barve; blue denim jacket, Tommy Hilfiger; enamel bangle, Curio Cottage; necklace and earrings, Aurus.
Surprise yourself with unexpected pairings. Zip up a bustier over a satin shirt or throw on a denim jacket. On Suzanne (left): teal woven ‘lehnga’, Raw Mango; beaded bustier, SVA by Sonam And Paras Modi; red satin shirt, 431-88 by Shweta Kapur; gold earrings, Varnika Arora; two-tone shoes, Berliegh. On Scarlet: threadwork embroidery ‘lehnga’, Nachiket Barve; blue denim jacket, Tommy Hilfiger; enamel bangle, Curio Cottage; necklace and earrings, Aurus. (Photo: Sahil Behal)
Stand out at the other end of the spectrum from red-gold-green, in calming indigo. Blue printed ‘lehnga’, Anita Dongre; mirror-work earrings and pendant, Ritika Sachdeva; white sneakers, Zara.
Stand out at the other end of the spectrum from red-gold-green, in calming indigo. Blue printed ‘lehnga’, Anita Dongre; mirror-work earrings and pendant, Ritika Sachdeva; white sneakers, Zara. (Photo: Sahil Behal)
Divide and rule. All the better to get your moves right. Bustier, SVA by Sonam & Paras Modi; Safa Palazzos, 431-88 by Shweta Kapur; Hawaiian shirt, Dior; tasselled necklace and earrings with precious stones, Aurus.
Divide and rule. All the better to get your moves right. Bustier, SVA by Sonam & Paras Modi; Safa Palazzos, 431-88 by Shweta Kapur; Hawaiian shirt, Dior; tasselled necklace and earrings with precious stones, Aurus. (Photo: Sahil Behal)
Jacket with belt or sheer ‘dupatta’, everything rules. On Scarlet (left): gold jacket, SVA by Sonam And Paras Modi; leather belt, Dior; blue embroidered ‘lehnga’, Pooja Shroff; choker, Ritika Sachdeva; earrings with precious stones, Aurus. On Suzanne: ‘lehnga’ set, Raw Mango; choker and pendant, Ritika Sachdeva and Anomaly by Anam.
Jacket with belt or sheer ‘dupatta’, everything rules. On Scarlet (left): gold jacket, SVA by Sonam And Paras Modi; leather belt, Dior; blue embroidered ‘lehnga’, Pooja Shroff; choker, Ritika Sachdeva; earrings with precious stones, Aurus. On Suzanne: ‘lehnga’ set, Raw Mango; choker and pendant, Ritika Sachdeva and Anomaly by Anam. (Photo: Sahil Behal)
Ritika Sachdeva; white shirt, Dior; halter skirt, Payal Khandwala.
Ritika Sachdeva; white shirt, Dior; halter skirt, Payal Khandwala. (Photo: Sahil Behal)
Twin your outfits with friends to share a special moment together. On Scarlet (right): V-neck top, Payal Khandwala; gold ‘lehnga’, SVA by Sonam And Paras Modi. On Suzanne: gold earrings,
Twin your outfits with friends to share a special moment together. On Scarlet (right): V-neck top, Payal Khandwala; gold ‘lehnga’, SVA by Sonam And Paras Modi. On Suzanne: gold earrings, (Photo: Sahil Behal)
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