Dubai – MENA Herald: Dubai’s retail landmark Meena Bazaar was struck by an Indian wedding blitz when its Cosmos Lane, a favourite destination of South Asian shoppers, gave way to a glamorous bridal fashion show on the evening of 25 January. It marked the finale of the ‘Street Runways’ concept created for the 21st edition of Dubai Shopping Festival organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Over the course of a few hours, Cosmos Lane, a busy street full of honking traffic and active shoppers, was transformed into a happy venue for a wedding as the bridal procession (also called the baraat) started the celebrations for the final DSF ‘Street Runway’ held in collaboration with three high-street Indian fashion houses, namely Ghunghat, Sanskriti and Vesimi.

At a distance, the sound of the dhol (a double-ended barrel drum) players could be heard, as the wedding band and dancers were followed by models wearing three sets of collections presented by the selected fashion houses, and watched by a growing crowd of people wanting to get the live view of a typical Indian wedding procession.

As smartphone cameras of several hundreds of people flickered in the night, models walked up the street in sets of six per each of the three designers. The procession was complete with dancers performing the bhangra as the dhol players beat their drum and the flowers were strewn by the flower bearers onto the street. The show-stopper was the bride and groom fully garlanded as per wedding tradition, walking under a canopy of draping marigold festoons. The bride was dressed in Ghungat traditional wedding finery while the bridegroom sported sherwani wear from Sanskriti.

The night was punctuated with a kind of glow that one feels when one is at a wedding as more than a dozen zardozie laden lehenga jackets, metallic chiffon gowns with mirror work, Swarovski studded skirts and resham embroidered contemporary gowns swished through the night. Hair and makeup for the event was presented by Paris Gallery.

The whole experience unwrapped the best of style, as part of the Apparel and Fashion theme of DSF 2016. DFRE, the organisers of DSF, worked with the fashion houses to create an appealing concept that would not only showcase the very best of South Asian bridal wear, specifically catering to India and Pakistan, but also serve as a reminder that Meena Bazaar has and will always be the South Asian Fashion Couture Centre of Dubai. Hence Meena Bazaar was chosen to be one of the picturesque locations for the ‘Street Runways’ , besides Al Fahidi and the Burj Plaza, Downtown Dubai.

In fact, Meena Bazaar was the central location where fabric shops, jewellery shops and tailor shops sprung up decades ago. Located in the heart of Bur Dubai and easily accessible from the Al Fahidi Metro station or the BurJuman Metro station, it is a stone’s throw away from the historical Al Fahidi district and attracts a lot of tourists who love wandering through the old parts of Dubai. Despite Dubai’s expansion over the decades, a majority of the Indian and Pakistani expatriates still do most of their shopping for wedding trousseaus in Meena Bazaar, which makes it a vibrant and busy area every day of the week.

At the ‘Street Runway,’ the fashion houses showcased the traditional look with the dramatic and intricate embroidery heavy with crystals, resham embroidery on georgette fabric, gota patti (an applique technique originating from Rajasthan, India), zardozie (gold metallic thread embroidery), chikan (white thread embroidery on sheer material) and shisha (mirror work) on metallic chiffon. There were also stunning pieces that were ‘fusion’ styled – where the traditional Indian forms of embroidery were moulded in with western type of fabric cuts, thus creating a deliberate contemporary look.

The collection presented by Vesimi, a multi-designer boutique based in Jumeirah, was a light hearted feast with an ethereal feel, with an interesting mix of happy colours and embroidery. Bright red floor length georgette anarkali with horizontal gold threaded embroidery on the bodice. Burnt orange coloured contemporary gown with extensive mirror work and resham across the bodice. Candy pink and copper coloured ensemble with Swarovski crystals marking the borders in an interesting pattern while high pile fabric was used on the dupatta. Heavy laden lehenga choli in green net with burgundy embroidered motifs around the border, while the full sleeved top shimmered with the most exquisite mix of silver threads, crystals and more.

Ghungat, whose boutique is located in Meena Bazaar, focused on dressing the models in various garment styles. Anuj Choudhary, Director of Ghungat, said: “Some of the models wore flowing gowns while others wore garments with a lehenga style. We wanted to offer a glimpse into what a bride might wear between the pre-wedding functions, as well as on the day of her wedding. We cater mainly to Indian and Pakistani shoppers. We also have quite a few Emirati clients who love the mix of Indian and western wear, which is why some of the gowns on the fashion show today have a Western-style cut but finished with various forms of traditional and intricate Indian hand-embroidery.

“We are very proud to have collaborated with DSF for the Meena Bazaar ‘Street Runway.’ This is our 11th year in business and we are happy to cater to the clientele that Dubai has to offer to us.”

Sanskriti is a boutique in Meena Bazaar that showcases various Indian and Pakistani designers, including the collaboration between Gauri Khan (Shahrukh Khan’s wife) with Satya Paul. The boutique not only has bridal outfits but a whole outfit area just for the men. It also sells designer jewellery and clutches to go with the women’s outfits. Samrat Amarnani, Director of Sanskriti, said, “We are happy to be part of the ‘Street Runway’ which we found to be well organised.

“Sanskriti was created four years ago when we saw a niche in the market for high-end yet affordable South Asian wear. Creating wedding garments for both men and women is our forte. We also cater to guests who want to attend the weddings. We are a one-stop shop for all the wedding requirements of the clients. Usually, people return to the Indian sub-continent to get their wedding outfits made. However, not everyone has the time or patience to hunt for outfits and accessories across the different cities in their home countries. It makes sense, instead, to come to us, get the fittings done, choose not only the wedding garments but also the accessories. It’s all stress-free.”

Sanskriti clients are mainly Indian and Pakistani expatriates living in Dubai. However, they also have clients coming in, during DSF, from other parts of the world such as the UK and South Africa.

“This DSF, we have offered 25-50% off on all purchases. Till the end of the festival, customers can avail themselves of discounts of upto 75% ”.

DSF 2016 runs until 1 February under the tagline ‘Unwrap The Exceptional’, offering residents and visitors the opportunity to experience the best in shopping, winnings and entertainment.