Designer Neeta Lulla On Films, Creating Costumes & How To Get That Bridal Look Just Right

neeta lulla

Couturier, costume designer and a go-to name for brides—Neeta Lulla needs no introduction. Her vast portfolio comprises movies which featured some of the most unforgettable wardrobes. Think Taal, Devdas and Jodhaa Akbar, to name a few amongst many. And yet, there is just no stopping the costume expert who has long established herself as a detail-oriented designer. Just last year, she was invited to join The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a member, yet another prestigious feat added to her career that spans over 30 years in the fashion industry.

In Conversation With Neeta Lulla

We spoke with her about topics that tend to stump most brides-to-be, ranging from 'what to shop for' and 'how to put a wedding trousseau together'. Below, edited excerpts from an interview with the designer where she spills the beans on her learnings, styling tricks and all that a would-be-bride would wish to know on the sartorial front.

As someone who has designed costumes for various films, what are some learnings you have taken from the sets?

The fact that the visual appearance on the screen is not the effort of one single technician. It is a collective effort which requires a very careful thought process and organisation on the part of each and every person on board for the film.

You designed for Devdas and then over 2600 costumes for Jodhaa Akbar, to name a few. How would you compare the on-screen bridal looks in the films and those you have designed off of it?

Designing for films is basically costuming, so you are creating costumes for the characters and creating looks that make them and the story believable. It takes you into a different era of time and kind of transports you there, bringing you back once the movie is over. I don’t compare a bridal look to an on-screen version. But when people see an exciting bridal outfit in a film, it inspires the would-be-brides, and they want to wear what they have seen on their favourite actress. So it generally transcends from the big screen into real life.

Neeta Lulla

What is the most important thing for brides-to-be to keep in mind when shopping for their trousseau?

As a designer, I think what’s most important for a bride-to-be to keep in mind when shopping for her trousseau is to look for classic pieces and jewellery that she can wear for a long time. Pieces that she can work into and add to her wardrobe later on as well. These should be the iterations that can be worn with different garments and can look distinct. Jewellery that is classic is one example of something that can be worn with multiple outfits apart from just your wedding attire.

What are the styles or kinds of textiles you see gaining more prominence with brides today?

I wouldn’t say there is a specific style or textile that is gaining more prominence with a bride today because there is a variety of bridal looks to choose from. Every personality has a different thought process and they like to go with a different style. There are brides going for classic embroidery on a red lehenga or a traditional bridal outfit and people opting for magnanimous styles that are very flamboyant. In today's times, it comes down to something you would feel and look good in, and be photographed well in!

Neeta Lulla

How important or unimportant do you find trends when it comes to making a selection?

I don’t think trends are very important when it comes to selecting a bridal outfit because eventually, you want your bridal outfit to be something that you can keep for posterity or can wear often. You will want to feel comfortable in it while looking good too. It's also something which is very personal to each bride and they definitely go in for colours and styles they are confident with.

What would your advice be to someone looking to go unconventional with their wedding look?

If you want to go unconventional with your wedding look—which means you are highly experimental—then you should go all out. Your willingness to explore means you are very comfortable, confident and caring of styles that are innovative. Then, it is just a way to go with what you like and will have fun wearing.

If you were to style a bride for her big day, what would your take be?

It would all be about her and only her because it is all about the bride looking beautiful, glamorous and her gorgeous best. I would go with the kind of colour scheme that she is comfortable wearing and a style that would look good on her. I would also opt for embroidery that would bring out the outfit, balancing it but not making the entire outfit stand out separately as a designer piece. 

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What is the one fail-safe styling hack that you think brides can rely on?

A reliable styling trick a bride can learn is to pick a tried-and-tested style that will look good on them. The bridal outfit is not one you want to keep in your closet and just let it be as an heirloom piece; you want to wear it, coordinate it, enjoy it and feel good in it! If you feel comfortable, you will always re-wear it on some other occasion.

A hit pre-wedding outfit, according to you?

An ideal pre-wedding outfit is a beautiful saree or an Anarkali because you know it’s all about looking glamorous and feeling gorgeous. You could style your pre-wedding outfit with jewellery of choice and thus go for something which is elegant and simplistic.

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A celebrity wedding look that you found to be near perfect?

Aishwarya’s [Rai Bachchan] wedding outfit which was a Kanjeevaram saree. It transcended from her culture and was something that was simple and yet had a heritage value. The saree was specially designed for her wedding, and she looked gorgeous, a stunning South Indian bride. It was an absolutely apt bridal look!

Featured Image: Neeta Lulla/Instagram