"This new take on the ?salwaar kameez? holds an appeal that is usually reserved for ?saris? and lehengas?"
The fashion of South Asia has always evoked several key images in the minds of the media. Mention the words “Asian Fashion” and almost instantly one thinks of saris, or lehengas, boasting elegance and exotic mystique.
Mention Salwar Kameez and quite often people will think of the stereotypical vision of a housewife wearing everyday salwar kameez billowing around her until they taper down to a narrow fit around her ankles.
The fact is something altogether entirely different. While it is true that the salwar kameez is the garment of choice for casual day to day wear, it has proved to be one of the most adaptable and versatile of South Asian wear, able to be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, while still maintaining a level of comfort.
Recognised as the national dress of Pakistan, it should come as no surprise that Pakistan is often the first to come up with new ways to reinvent the salwar kameez. This latest style to have emerged from the country will surely remain the first choice of fashionistas for many years to come.
This new style draws heavy inspiration from the Mughal Empire, and is reminiscent of the type of dress worn during that particular period; the anarkali.
This new style of salwar kameez is rising to meteoric heights of popularity, and it is easy to see why. Combining the glamour and luxury of a Western dress with all the ornate appeal of traditional South Asian fashion, this new take on the salwar kameez holds an appeal that is usually reserved for saris and lehengas.
There is a certain romance to this new type of salwar kameez, which features a fitted top that hugs the figure until the waist. From here, a heavy, full-bodied skirt lightly skims the hips before flaring out in an exaggerated A-shape. It is for this reason that this style has proved to be extremely well-suited to all women, regardless of their sizes and curves.
But it is not just the flattering cut that is so appealing to women of all ages; the shift from the more traditional salwar to the more streamlined churidar provides a “wow” factor. Churidars show off the shapeliness of a woman’s leg, while still maintaining respectability and class.
What is notable is that unlike the salwar kameez styles from the past, there is less of a focus on the use of bead-work and sequins. While there are hints of beads here and there, this new fashion utilises an eclectic mix of fabrics to create a look that really sets itself apart from earlier styles.
Velvets and lace shares space with crepes and chiffons. It’s a striking effect, and once coupled with elaborate brocades, standing bright against a backdrop of flared skirts and fitted bodices, there is a certain air of austerity that simply cannot be ignored.
It is perhaps the level of detail that is paid to the sleeves which really adds a unique value to this latest fashion. Previously in the salwar kameez world, sleeves were fairly simple and didn’t warrant any attention. Now, sleeves are as likely as the main body to have frothy lace spilling over the cuffs, or net sleeves that cover and reveal all at once in a fusion of values.
The real beauty of this fashion is how easy it is to purchase such creations in a ready-made form. Gone are the days when a salwar kameez had to be sent to the tailors for adjustments to stop material from puckering in an unsightly fashion. It is almost a certainty that any suit you choose will fit, with the minimum of fuss.
The salwar kameez has seen plenty of evolution and new trends during the past few years as designers experiment with new materials, colours and themes, often setting the South Asian fashion world alight with excitement.
One such example would be the introduction of cullote salwars, or “palazzo” pants. The cullote’s wide leg were a hit with those who wanted to achieve the look of wearing a skirt while keeping with all the comfort of trousers. But as style gurus veered more towards showing off the body’s natural silhouette, this particular fashion soon fell out of favour.
Patiala suits have also seen a come-back in previous years, despite being very traditional. A Patiala style trouser features pleated fabric along the waist and is generally worn with a top that hits about mid-thigh in order to showcase the pleating. It is traditionally seen as a luxurious style worn by the upper echelons of society.
In 2008, the emergence of the Jacket-Style kameez started to gain immense popularity, for good reason. Stitched to the same length as the main kameez itself, the jacket was usually made out of a lighter, more sheer material, allowing it to sit in all the right places.
Often such jackets could be made out of a heavier material to offset the simplicity of the kameez itself. The jackets in these instances would have stones and sequins stitched on, with perhaps a more elaborate print. Such a look often created a sense of opulence and wealth.
One hot trend that still exists today and also emerged from Pakistan over the last few years is the Lawn salwar kameez. Lawn salwar kameez are slightly different to the regular cotton suits that many wear on a day to day basis. The fabric that is produced has a high thread count, and uses only the finest of quality, giving a feel to the material which is similar to silk while giving a look that is completely its own and incomparable to either cotton, silk or satin.
The designers that champion Lawn Suits have a distinct way of using motifs, prints and blending colour. There is very much a theme of nature in the prints that are used. One suit might have a blend of greens and browns to evoke a visual of a forest, whereas another might have vibrant butterflies against a backdrop of cream.
One thing is for certain, no matter what the next trend might be, wearing a salwar kameez will never grow stale or begin to look stagnant. And with this latest fashion igniting people’s passion for South Asian fashion, it will be very exciting to see what designers will think of next.