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Exclusive: Aisha Rao On Her Upcycled Bridal Collection ‘Juna,’ Future Of Sustainable Fashion And Her Favourite Celebrity Bride In 2021

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The modern bride is one who knows exactly what she wants—a mix of modern and traditional. But at the same time, if she can make sure her pick adds some more value or send a message, such as sustainability, then it’s a double whammy. Curated for this very modern bride is a limited edition, bridal collection, Juna, by designer Aisha Rao. Juna is fun-spirited, joyful and carves the yesteryear charm for the present day. What I personally loved about this collection is that it is an upcycled one that introduces a range of bridal wear options to choose from. It renovates and brings to life the essence of tissue fabric (minus the fraying), that lost its significance many moons ago. Rich, with a sense of nostalgia, the collection lets you think beyond the classic bridal red while it offers an exuberant colour palette, featuring 3D designs on lehengas by up-cycling fabric.

And as we unfold the story of the entire collection, designer Aisha Rao, takes me through some behind-the-tailor made pieces and shares her favourite celebrity bridal look of 2021.


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A post shared by AISHA RAO (@aisharaoofficial)

Q. What prompted you to create an upcycled bridal collection?

Aisha Rao: Sustainability in all areas of one’s life is an absolute necessity and no longer a choice. Why not embrace it even on the most special days of your life as well?

Q. What was your inspiration for the collection? And what made you introduce an upcycled range in bridal wear, which is usually a rare combination?

A:  We are trying to propagate an idea where beautiful design can stem from waste. They’re not mutually exclusive. We’ve always used Tesla as an example. Making your product aspirational to a buyer because of its design and aura and not just because it’s sustainable and the right thing to do forms the core of our brand ideology.


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A post shared by AISHA RAO (@aisharaoofficial)

ALSO READ: From Lavender Lehengas To Double Dupatta, Here Are Some Celebrity Bridal Trends That Stole The Spotlight In 2021

Q. What are some common requests/wishes that you get from brides while designing? And did you incorporate any of that in this collection?

A: Earlier I used to get sleeve addition requests because all my blouses would be sleeveless but the past year, most brides are picking it up as is, which is really surprising. People also asked if I can make my lehengas calf length for mehendi but I would decline because our signature usage of huge motifs would just not work on the smaller surface area.

Q. Why tissue amongst other luxury fabrics?

A: Tissue because it’s almost disappeared from our wardrobes although it’s such a glamorous fabric. People have stopped using it also because of how delicate it is, but I’ve always loved gauzy gossamer fabrics and being a designer label allows us to thrive on what we can bring to the table. Hence we’ve tried to re-package it.

Q. Often referred to as ‘pani ki chaadar,’ tissue for many years was meant to look and feel like the reflection of light on water. What makes the tissue fabric so rare in today’s day and age?

A: Tissue frays over time. It’s made from a combination of coloured cotton thread and gold/silver zari in warp and weft which gives it that transparent quality and sophisticated sheen. Today they’re so many more preferable “resilient” fabrics that can sustain wear and tear but this very quality makes them non-biodegradable.


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A post shared by AISHA RAO (@aisharaoofficial)

Q. What according to you is the future of the tissue fabric in the Indian fashion space?

A: We want to provide tissue as an option for today’s brides. It deserves another shot especially for bridal outfits that are seldom worn but mostly act as sentimental keepsakes to be passed on to the next generation.

Q. The colour palette is diverse, giving the shoppers a break from the usual reds. Was it a conscious choice?

A: Yes, colour is a big part of our story and signature. I wore turquoise for my wedding, not red or pink.

Q. What can we expect to take the centre stage in 2022’s Bridal wear? What are the upcoming trends according to you?

A: I am not big on trends. I’ve always only strived to be different and that’s worked for us.

Q. What is your idea of a modern bride?

A: For me, a modern bride is someone who gets her way on the biggest decisions of her life. Be it who she’s marrying or how she’s marrying. To have the freedom to choose what she truly wants.


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A post shared by AISHA RAO (@aisharaoofficial)

Q. What were your favourite celebrity bridal looks of the year 2021?

A: All wedding portraits are happy and full of love but what I found especially commendable was how true to their roots, Yami Gautam and her partner kept their wedding.


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A post shared by Yami Gautam Dhar (@yamigautam)

Q. What according to you is the future of sustainable fashion in the wedding wear space?

A: As I’d previously said, sustainability in every aspect of your life will very soon no longer be a choice. We must embrace it sooner than later. If weddings are a true reflection of our culture and beliefs then what can be better than being seen as a family, that made mindful choices and upheld values most relevant to today’s times. Designers and their audience are having to embrace so new notions of inclusivity, gender diversity, body positivity and sustainability. I am so excited to be witnessing that wave of change around me and I sincerely hope these positive notions robustly forge ahead to become an intrinsic part of how we think and act.


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