Timeless Ethnic Fashion of India from Royal Ladies to Modern Women

Trends are temporary fads. Trends come and go. What remains true to all times and in all ages is our heritage. Heritage is a collective term for history, traditions, customs, art and culture which define the identity of an ethnic entity or community or tribe. Heritage never dies. Ethnic fashion from traditional lehengas to today’s modern wedding sarees is unique to the immortal heritage of India. The ethnic fashion of India has been reinventing itself through evolution in keeping with changing trends from the eras of queens and princesses to the times of Bollywood divas and modern Indian brides.

Some fashionistas and stylists often associate luxury and sophistication with modern fashion. But these two have been the characteristics of Indian ethnic fashion from the bygone royal eras when Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur (1939 to 1970), one of the most beautiful women in the 1960’s, was known for her effortless style statements. Draped in chiffon saris with Jaipuri embroidery and adorned with pearl necklaces, Maharani Gayatri Devi was an epitome of ethnic beauty.

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Referred to as the ‘Kohinoor of Hyderabad’ for her unmatched beauty, Princess Niloufer of Hyderabad had a signature ethnic fashion and style. Married to a Nizam prince of Hyderabad, this Ottoman lady was mostly talked about for her traditional saris ornamented with sequins, beads and metallic embroidery in chiffon, crepe and super net. Her ethnic saris were designed in France but embroidered in India.

One of the best dressed women on earth according to many top fashion magazines, Maharani Sita Devi of Kapurthala was a most glamorous royal lady. One of the secrets to her glamour was her ethnic sari fashion, unique and indefinable. Married to a younger son of the Sikh Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, Maharani Sita Devi was a muse to an Italian couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, who named her 1935 collection “Sita Devi’s Saris”. 

They and other queens including Maharani Indira Raje of Baroda, Maharani Vijaya Raje Scindia of Gwalior and Begum Sajida Sultan of Bhopal are immortal divas in the world of haute couture even today. Thanks to Indian ethnic fashion for enhancing and immortalizing their beauty, style and sensuality!

Their legacy of ethnic styling has passed on to the women of urban India through a number of generations from Baiju Bawra to Bajirao Mastani, from Pakizah to Prem Ratan Dhan Pao, from Mughal-e-Azam to Jodha Akbar. No matter how modern today’s Indian girls are, they like to drape themselves in only ethnic lehengas, sarees and kurtis during festivals and wedding functions.

Those wearing heavy lehengas and saris are often described as mere socialites and criticized as living mannequins. Neither the ladies from royal families in the historic eras were confined to luxuries of fashion nor do today’s women restrict themselves to the glitters of ethnic attires. They look beyond luxury, fashion, style and sophistication to stand up and speak up for rights to emancipation and empowerment whenever needed.

The queens and princesses of India are still known for not only their traditional attires and ethnic fashion of those times but also their self respect, independent identities and broader outlook. For instance, Princess Niloufer of Hyderabad used to voice women’s rights. She carried out relief work as a trained nurse during the Second World War. She donated her wealth to build a hospital for women and children in Hyderabad. Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur was involved in social service and philanthropic activities. Rani Sita Devi of Kapurthala could speak many European languages. She was nicknamed “Secular Goddess” for her religious intolerance and unbiased outlook.

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EthnicDukaan.com is a leading online shopping brand for designer lehenga sarees, wedding lehengas cholis, salwar suits and kurtis with material embroidery that not only beautify but also empower the Indian women who seek self respect and freedom even in fashion. It urbane merchandise from designers at home and abroad is inspired by the timeless ethnic fashion of India from retro to metro.

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