Borrowers Of The Past | Verve Magazine
India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
October 14, 2014

Borrowers Of The Past

Text by Priyanka Monga

Fine Indian jewels that were considered not modern enough are finding their way back into wedding trousseaus. Verve discovers that designers are giving age-old, traditional accessories a contemporary spin

A piece of jewellery tells the best stories – be it an antique heirloom or a contemporary classic. Only this time, the plot is specific and spiced up by the influence of fashion. The new tale is about fashion’s age-old obsession with all things antique that has led to the beginning of a modish resurgence of jewellery with a traditional vestige. The old-world charm of the pieces such as hathphools, maathapattis, maangtikkas, kamarbands, and jhumkas, reminiscent of the royal Indian era, has resurfaced in a contemporary avatar. The timeless styles play perfect inspiration for designers, who have twisted and tweaked them to create the New-Age renditions terming them as statement jewels – ethnic ammunitions for the brides-to-be to shine and sparkle on their D-day in keeping with traditions.

Changing the norm of jewellery re-inventions this season are the eternal jhumkas. Modern jewels have always seen a radical downsizing, but these add-ons have taken an opposite route to become oversized and chunkier. Amongst those who have been showcasing perfect examples of these statement earrings on the A/W’14 runways are Arjun Saluja, Anita Dongre and Virtues by Ashish, Viral and Vikrant. The double-sized ornaments exude an Indian tribal undertone, making them a must-buy, this season. Tarang Arora, owner, Amrapali, says, “The traditional medium-sized jhumkas have always been there as an essential ethnic jewel. But this year, it is the oversized design of the earring that makes for a perfect statement jewel, which is the newest trend in accessories.”

The jadau kamarpeti (broad from the front with a reduced width size towards the end) glistening with gold and precious emeralds and rubies was once an essential belt on every woman’s waist. The logic was simple – it kept expanding waistlines under check and served a dual purpose of a jewellery piece adding grandeur to ethnic garb. It got re-invented in a lighter version some years ago, more popularly known as the kamarband (the width shrunk to half its size and remained constant throughout the length). But it’s the new and the latest interpretation that is carving a niche for itself – the new kamarband is replete with clean, straight lines of minimalism sans any embellishments. It looks more like a metallic belt or a waistband as seen at A/W’14 collections of Archana Rao, Abraham & Thakore and Raakesh Agarvwal.

Sleek and edgy are the words to describe the new form of the ethnic maangtikka. The chunky or jadau styles have been timeless designs adorned by one and all but it’s the lighter kundan-studded form that got mass acceptance in the past decade. The head piece has been revived once again in a futuristic design. Reduced to almost half of its original size, the new version was portrayed at designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh’s Autumn/Winter’14 collection. Jewellery designer Rachna Reddy, who has created various futuristic and contemporary designs of the jewel this year in her collections, says, “In the bygone era, it was a requirement for women to wear these ornaments, but today they sport it as a style statement. Now, simple and elegant maangtikkas are designed in such a way that they can be worn with different ensembles and on various occasions.”

The ongoing rage for the exquisite haathphool has crossed borders and oceans, making it a favourite amongst Hollywood starlets. The hand jewel has undergone a makeover to look both edgy and funky or dainty and lady-like. Indian designers such as Malini Ramani, Raakesh Agarvwal and Anita Dongre have gone much further to create various versions of the humble jewel piece – from punk-inspired to a more elegant, lighter and modern design to befit an Indian ensemble and do equal justice to a fusion or a western look.Agarvwal, who went up a notch with his accessory designs resembling an edgy adornment, says, “Indian women are bored of wearing the same old jewellery. For occasions such as weddings, people look for stylised Indian designs such as a haathphool. I have done different versions of the jewel piece in brass metal with leopard etching or one connected with a brass amulet which is further linked with a metal collar.”

The virtually forgotten adornment, maathapatti, has a long past as an accessory du jour of royalty. Until it made a comeback some years ago with the addition of kundan, polki  or precious stones onto one inch fat gold-strip or thick chains that trail to the back of the earrings. The head piece underwent another transformation this season. The newest avatar of the maathapatti is understated, uncluttered and super sexy as seen at the Autumn/Winter’14 catwalks. The patti is either a gold chain decorated with minuscule diamonds and precious stones as seen at Anupama Dayal or delicate chains covering the temples and the forehead as showcased by Amit GT. Dayal explains, “It’s the global look that has influenced a sleeker and lighter maathapatti. The shift is due to our growing sense of value for all things traditional, which is equally balanced by practicality when wearing jewellery.”

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