Famous for her breathtaking wedding couture, clothing and jewelry designer Anita Dongre is one of India’s crown jewels. Her company, the House of Anita Dongre, has staked its claim as one of the country’s top fashion houses since she founded it in 1995. The brand is known for its vibrant bridal lehengas and handwoven Benarasi sarees. Committed to preserving India’s rich craft heritage, the brand sources textiles from rural artisans gifted in the Rajasthan craft tradition of gota patti embroidery.
Behind the Anita Dongre brand
Almost 25 years later, Dongre’s empire has expanded to include multiple ready-to-wear lines, an accessories line, and a flagship store in New York City. And as her influence grows, so does her loyal following of couples after her coveted aesthetic: a contemporary take on tradition. In the same vibrant spirit as her bridal couture, Dongre’s collection of wedding invitations offers a seamless experience—pairing patterns and motifs from her runway collections with stunning invitation designs. To celebrate the collaboration and hear more about the inspiration behind her designs, we chatted with Dongre about all things wedding.
“Abhitha Sangeet invitation in Yellow” by Anita Dongre. “Naima Mehendi invitation in Green” by Anita Dongre. “Aditri ceremony invitation” by Anita Dongre.
On the Anita Dongre signature style
My style is comfortable, functional, and elegant. I have always designed garments keeping in mind the three significant aspects that the modern Indian woman seeks in her ensembles—effortless grace, style, and comfort. Over the years, we have also focused on creating eco-friendly, sustainable clothing that uses earth-friendly materials that look and feel great—without impacting the planet. Going forward, we aim to experiment and work with more sustainable fabrics and incorporate them with our design aesthetic.
On her environmental impact
It has always been my dream to create beautiful clothes, and at the same time create beautiful tomorrows for our people, planet, and crafts. Our organization, Grassroot, was born out of the need to provide steady opportunities to India’s skilled artisan communities. We translate heirloom traditions from the heart of Indian villages into contemporary, sustainable fashion. We use traditional processes, and I am naturally inclined to reduce our demand on the planet. Sustainability is a culmination of so much—little things like not using leather or fur, composting, reusing water in the factory, and using natural light in production. These things add up and make a difference.
On traditional Indian embroideries
Over the years, we have explored different weaves, textures, embroideries, and prints to have something for everyone. Rajasthan being my core inspiration—my signature design element gota patti is on most of my pieces. Our garments also showcase dori, pearl, zardosi, sequins, cut dana, and thread work that adds a touch of opulence to our collections. Our design sensibility also encompasses a blend of contemporary and traditional motifs like florals, vines, and botanicals inspired by lush Indian forests as well as timeless Mughal motifs inspired by the majestic architecture of our ancient palaces. We also use hand-painted Pichhwai work and block prints using organic dyes that couples can also incorporate into their invitations as a part of this collaboration.
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, India.
On the quintessential Anita Dongre couple
The quintessential Anita Dongre couple is educated, independent, and self-sufficient. They have their contemporary take on tradition and are mindful of the impact their actions have on the environment. There certainly has been a significant shift in how couples plan their weddings today. Weddings today are more personalized than ever before and are no longer restricted by age-old rules and norms. They are combining traditions from different cultures, experimenting with unique one-of-a-kind elements for the décor, and organizing themed weddings and elegant destination weddings.
Moreover, couples today prefer intimate gatherings with their loved ones, over a big fat social obligation wedding. I love the experience of designing for the entire family because it’s Indian tradition at its very best—when family comes together to celebrate one another. As the theme progresses with each event, so does the wedding attire. A cohesive look for the entire family ties everything together, making for perfectly harmonized looks and photographs. We have created a lot of wedding looks, not only for Indian families but also many multicultural families in New York. Needless to say, there are no rules or labels any more.
Anita’s advice for modern takes on traditional Indian ceremonies
Free-flowing, fuss-free silhouettes should be your go-to for the Haldi ceremony; think sharara pants paired with a straight, strappy kurta. The narrow kurta adds dimension and drama to the more voluminous sharara, making for a striking silhouette. Grooms can opt for kurtas paired with dhoti pants to amp up the style quotient.
Our cropped, calf-length skirts with a wide flare have been immensely popular for a breezy look. The shorter skirt style is an edgy, contemporary spin on the more traditional lehenga, and is ideal for a mehendi function with lots of dancing involved. Grooms can choose long bandis with vibrant, printed motifs and matching pocket squares for a well-coordinated look.
Gorgeous lehengas in vibrant prints paired with strappy, embellished blouses that are tailored to fit and highlight the flow of the skirt below, are ideal for the sangeet night. Grooms can opt for bandhgalas and experiment with accessories such as brooches and embroidered mojaris to complete the look.
For the more formal ceremony, opulent, regal ensembles in velvet and Benares silk continue to be popular. Another chic look is the form-fitting, strappy choli for the more adventurous bride. The groom can opt for stylish sherwanis in complementing hues, motifs, and textures.
On her son Yash’s recent wedding
Both Yash and Benaisha had envisioned a wedding amongst mountains and forests. So, when we spotted the location (the JW Marriott Mussoorie) with a beautiful view of the foothills of the mountains, we knew it would be the right fit. The natural elements around the property inspired the decor—the majestic mountains, thick forests, and colorful birds all played a significant role in the final design.
We used black and gold with white accents bathed in warm and soothing light for the sangeet. For the welcome dinner, we played with navy blue and black upholstery. The pheras is where we used the backdrop of the Himalayas; we added white and pink flowers with greens to the mandap to give it a very soft, feminine, and tranquil feeling.
Yash and Benaisha wanted their wedding attire to be lightweight and high on comfort. It was important for them to be able to spend time with their loved ones without being weighed down by their outfits, so I designed their looks with wearability in mind. They were also keen to wear the sustainable, homegrown handicrafts that I support, including intricate embroidery by the women of SEWA (Self-employed Women’s Association) in Gujarat, hand-painted Pichhwai work, and our signature gota patti from Rajasthan.
Yash and Benaisha’s wedding: courtesy of Anita Dongre.
On creating her first invitation collection
As a brand, we always aim to provide a one-of-a-kind experience to our clients. Weddings are all about intimacy, togetherness, and the coming together of two different families with their distinctive styles to find harmony. The quest for this harmony is what gives us pleasure in designing ensembles for the entire family to capture that perfect moment in time. Crafting wedding invites with the theme, mood, and feel of the events is a natural extension of that, lending synergy to the wedding proceedings.
Yash and Benaisha’s wedding: courtesy of Anita Dongre.
From the Haldi to the final ceremony, discover invitations for every wedding event. Explore Anita Dongre’s full collection. Looking for even more inspiration? Learn everything you need to know about wedding planning here.