The lehenga or lehenga choli is a traditional style of ethnic clothing worn by women all over India. It is commonly worn in the Indian states Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Nepal, Punjab and Haryana.
The lehenga consists of three parts: the choli or blouse, the lehenga or skirt and the chunni or dupatta. Historically, lehengas evolved from ghagra cholis which are a three piece ensemble that includes the lower skirt, veil and chest band. This form of clothing was mentioned in Buddhist Pali and Sanskrit literature in the 6th century B.C.
Modern Lehengas are a variation of the ghagra choli. Lehengas can be found in a range of styles and designs which are greatly influenced by current fashion trends, fabric of construction, stitching and embellishments.
Fabric of Construction
Lehengas are stitched using many types of fabrics including cotton, crape, satin, net, chiffon, velvet, brocade, khadi, georgette and silk. Despite having such a large variety of fabrics, silk and georgette lehengas are some of the most popular.
The embroidery patterns on a lehenga choli are one of the most important aspects of its appearance. Popular types of embroidery and decoration are shisha (glass), gota, phulkari, kundan, nakshi, zardozi, mangalgiri, ikat, maheshwari and zari. Lehengas made for weddings often feature precious and semi-precious stones as well as embroidered pearls, sequins, zari and silk.
The decorative stitch will determine what type of function or occasion the outfit is suitable for. For example, during the festival of Navratri, many Gujarati women wear lehengas with shisha (mirror) work.
Lehenga cholis are available in numerous silhouettes. Some of the most popular shapes are mermaid, A-line, full flair, cut lehengas and panelled lehengas. The outline of the lehenga should suit your body shape. For example, if you have an hour glass figure a mermaid style lehenga will complement your body shape.
The blouse of a lehenga is also subject to much intricate detailing. Apart from the embroidery and embellishments that may be sown on, blouses are often cut in a specific shape or sewn with silver and gold threads. In modern lehengas, the blouse may be a completely different colour or material from the skirt. It is not uncommon to see a velvet choli with a georgette skirt.
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