It is an ethereal tonal gradation in deep shades of blue, sheathed with crystals arranged in mathematical precision across the entire silhouette of the encrusted lehenga. Add to that the delicate rendition of the bustier that brings in the movement of the ocean waves in the skilfully strewn embellishments —- simply a leaf that fashion designer Kresha Bajaj has pulled out of her oceanic logbook. With oceans and sea life as her muse, you will find all her creations studded with jewelled sting rays, delicate seahorses as well as a rich sprinkling of shells and oysters darting across in planned precision.
“This particular creation took almost seven months to come to life, with over six shapes in crystals ranging from teardrop to marquise, tiny tikis, and a multitude of the glistening picks brought in for stunning rendition. The colour palette has been inspired by the surreal blue of the thermocline—the bone-searing cold band of water that I experienced when I dived into the deep blue recently,” she explains as we settle down for a conversation in the ‘bridal boudoir’ section of her swish store in suburban Mumbai.
The fine eye for detail is evident, from the metallic pink rose, that appears like icing on a cake, on the tissue box to the scarlet flounce of the Love Story Lehenga Version 3.0 (“Each year we create a new edition of our famous ‘Love story’ lehenga”), to the luxe unfurling of Kresha’s own, trailblazer Love Story Lehenga awash in gold and creamy whiffs, unfurling in a perfect pirouette on the wall, with cavorting dolphins and special moments composing her courtship and marriage to beau, Vanraj Zaveri, woven beautifully, prized forever.
“I am lucky to have a group of committed, third generation karigars who breathe splendid life into my creations,” she shares. “I absolutely love embroidery, and the challenge of bringing traditional work into contemporary cuts. Earlier there was derision when I experimented with a bra-cut top with a lehenga. Flouting convention has paid off and today my label has now evolved into a luxe, bespoke brand and the questions have morphed into appreciation,” she smiles. An alumnus of London College of Fashion, and Parsons College of Design in New York, Kresha has designing in her genes, having being brought up in the world of fashionable threads since the age of 4, playing in her father’s design crucible that produced bespoke wear. She rechristened her earlier pret line Koecsh, to Kresha Bajaj, to surge forth with renditions inspired by the her diving adventures across the globe. “My earlier label was more colour pops and Gothic in vein. The Kresha Bajaj label today is a completely different emergence,” says Kresha.
No fashion weeks for the petite powerhouse? “I did one, and am done,” she laughs. “Honestly, I want to be involved in every detail in my production. For instance, even in my store, the lights create a dream mood with the colour palette, the classic powder room brings in the quaint touch, with the brass fittings, velvet drapes… I want complete control of the narrative,” she laughs, explaining why she chooses to stay away from combined showings.
She is, in fact, now looking at strengthening her international buyer base by setting up retail points across the globe. “Our clients span women of all age groups, from all countries, as we design for all occasions. Apart from bridal wear, I have designed outfits for bridesmaids and mothers-to-be for their baby showers. What is beautiful is that we do not advertise. Our rather subtle Insta handle is the only display point for us. Recently, a bride from Pakistan got her lehenga made on video chat discussions and her cousins from Dubai picked it up. Similarly, a Japanese lady came in to get her wedding couture designed. This is a testament of our growing popularity,” says Kresha with a smile. “The most challenging part is balancing the creative with the commercials. What I have learnt is to simply go along with your own gut instinct and everything else instantly falls into place.”