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Fashion Highlights from the Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre-Wedding Celebrations

Fashion Highlights from the Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre-Wedding Celebrations

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations

It will probably be the wedding of the year when Radhika Merchant and Anant Ambani tie the knot this July. Already the recent pre-wedding event from 1-3 March 2024 in Jamnagar, Ahmedabad in the Indian region of Gujarat was all over the news with attendance of the who’s who from India and international guests such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Rihanna who also performed. And yes, you read it correctly: this was just a pre-wedding event.

For all those who are not so clued in on Indian celebrities: Radhika Merchant is the daughter of Shaila and Viren A. Merchant, CEO of Encore Healthcare, a pharmaceuticals company. She is a graduate from New York University is involved in her father’s business. Anant Ambani is the son of Nita and Mukesh Ambani, the family behind Reliance Industries which is active in various fields such as petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom, retail and financial services. According to Forbes, Mukesh Ambani is the richest Indian and among the top 10 richest people in the world. The Ambanis have also started to build a reputation in the fashion industry: last year, they hosted a big event at the occasion of the opening of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai. There are a lot of opinions on this pre-wedding event itself, this article only focuses on the fashion.[1]

This article covers selected outfits from the celebrations – naturally, what the family wore but also certain Indian and international guests. As always with big events in India, we could talk hours and hours about the outfits, the jewellery, the craftsmanship, the details. But I had to focus on selected outfits, as it could easily go beyond the scope of this article.

You can also watch the video here:

The Venue

Before discussing the outfits, it is interesting to know that Indian designer Manish Malhotra was in charge not only to design outfits for the family members and selected guests but also the overall theme and décor of the event. He said that for the venue, he wanted to create a mix of Indian and French influences and created what he called “a Mela Rouge theme” for one of the parties. Mela Rouge points at the mix of East and West – Rouge from Moulin Rouge, there was a red windmill inspired by the cabaret in Paris and “Mela” means fair in Hindi. Needless to say, red was a dominating colour for that party.[2]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Mela Rouge
The venue decor by Manish Malhotra was inspired by the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris and India. (Picture Source: Official Instagram of Manish Malhotra (person))

For all those who are not familiar with Indian designers (you should, they are amazing): Manish Malhotra started his career designing movie costumes and founded his own couture label in 2005. It is no surprise that he was the main designer of choice as Reliance Brands Limited, a retail arm of the Ambani-owned Reliance Industries, owns a 40% stake in the brand.[3]

The Outfits

Anant Ambani & Radhika Merchant

Let’s take a look at the outfits and let’s start with the couple. Let’s briefly touch upon one outfit of the groom-to-be Anant Ambani who opted for a bordeaux sherwani, a long-sleeved coat, by Manish Malhotra which was intricately embroidered and finished with Swarovski crystals. The jungle motifs refer to Vantara, a 1,200-hectar animal centre launched by Anant Ambani in Jamnagar.[4]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Bordeaux Sherwani Malhotra
Anant Ambani in Manish Malhotra. (Picture Source: Official Instagram of Manish Malhotra)

The bride-to-be also wore Manish Malhotra – a golden ensemble embellished with over 20,000 Swarovski crystals crafted by 70 artisans.[5]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Gold Ensemble Malhotra
Radhika Merchant in Manish Malhotra. (Picture Source: Official Instagram of Manish Malhotra)

Needless to say, this is a beautiful outfit but was it the one that caught our eyes? I am not so sure. 

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Blake Lively Versace Dress
Radhika Merchant in a custom-adaptation of Blake Lively’s Versace dress. (Picture Source: Instagram Radhika Merchan FP)

The dress which made global headlines was an adaptation of a Versace gown which was worn by Blake Lively at the Met Gala in 2022. Back then, I was not a big fan of Blake Lively’s interpretation of the Met Gala theme “A Gilded Age”. Her gown was a reference of New York architecture, such as the Statue of Liberty, or the Empire State Building. While the idea sounded interesting, I found the interpretation too literal. The body of the dress in pink tones was beautiful but the big bow was a too much and when opened, I felt that the blue train (needless to say very big to achieve a great effect on the Met Gala steps) kind of ruined the look. I do not know if there is a story behind or a reason for this particular choice by Radhika Merchant. But I liked the adaptation, it looked elegant yet modern and young. It is basically the parts of the gown I liked on Blake Lively as well.[6]

The same night, Radhika Merchant changed into a second outfit, a colourful fringe dress by London-based Delhi-born designer Ashish Gupta. It was from his Spring/Summer 2024 collection which was inspired by Studio 54 but also Asha Puthli, an Indian singer who became a major disco queen in New York City.[7]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla Chikankari
Ensemble by Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla. (Picture Source: Official Instagram of Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla)

Radhika Merchant also wore a more traditional gagra (skirt) in pastel tones with Chikankari embroidery by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla paired with a Western-style blouse to greet guests during the day. Chikankari is a very fine embroidery technique from the region of Lucknow.[8]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Tarun Tahiliani
The outfit for the more traditional function was by Tarun Tahiliani. (Picture Source: Official Instagram of Tarun Tahiliani)

For the more traditional night, she wore pastel-coloured Tarun Tahiliani, which is probably the outfit which was shared most often online after the Blake Lively dress.[9]

Isha Ambani

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Isha Ambani Miss Sohee
Isha Ambani in Miss Sohee. (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania & Miss Sohee)

The groom-to-be’s sister was styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania. At the cocktail, she wore a bespoke Miss Sohee Couture adorned with three-dimensional cherry blossoms and magnolia flowers. While I did not like the puffy stole too much, I have to say that the intricate 3D-flowers and embroidery looked beautiful.[10]

She also wore Louis Vuitton custom couture and a Chanel bodycon see-through dress with a halter neck design with silver embellishment. I would have not paired the latter with that much jewellery.[11]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Isha Nita Ambani Manish Malhotra Alexander McQueen Kanika Goyal
Nita and Isha Ambani in Manish Malhotra (left) and Isha Ambani in Alexander McQueen and Kanika Goyal (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania )

For the red theme, she wore a red ensemble by Manish Malhotra with big emerald jewellery and another ensemble by Manish Malhotra was a gold Kanchipuram lehenga. The Kanchipuram silk sari comes from the region with the same name in Tamil Nadu, India and this fine silk weave is usually worn at weddings or other special occasions. Malhotra sourced it from Swadesh and it features silver zardozi embroidery. This type of embroidery originated in Persia and later spread to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and it is a metal embroidery (often silver or gold) on precious fabrics such as silk. Zardozi sometimes also includes beads, pearls or precious stones.[12] 

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Isha Ambani Jodi
Custom block print ensemble by Jodi (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania & Jodi)

Needless to say, beautiful but actually another outfit caught my attention: an ensemble create by the label Jodi: I love the vibrant colours, the custom block print and the outfit just looks really cool and easy. I do hope that Jodi is going to add this or an interpretation of it to its collection.[13]

Another interesting look was the for the “Jungle Fever”-themed party where she wore Alexander McQueen and Kanika Goyal. I really like the shape of the top in combination with the casual cargo pants.(See picture above)[14]

Similar to the previously mentioned golden Malhotra ensemble for Isha Ambani, the mother of the groom-to-be, Nita Ambani, also opted for a handloom Kachipuram sari with added zardozi embroidery on the border. (See picture above) Needless to say, her jewellery probably stole the show – most people only noticed the big emerald jewellery, but she also wore a historical diamond which is assumed to cost USD 6.5 Million. The “Mirror of Paradise” weighs 52.28 and is flawless. Just a “minor” detail you may have overlooked.[15]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Shloka Mehta Manish Malhotra
Shloka Mehta in Manish Malhotra. (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Manish Malhotra)

Probably one of the most interesting outfits was a Malhotra lehenga worn by Shloka Metha, the sister-in-law of Anant Ambani. This “cage cut-out” garment took 8,000 hours to make and features holographic Swarovski crystals and rose gold.[16]

Overall, I would say something controversial here: I think Shloka Mehta stole the show; I liked her outfits most. Among her many outfits which mixed Indian and Western styles was another cute pastel-coloured sari designed by Manish Malhotra.

Let’s look at some of the guest’s outfits. As mentioned previously, this is only a selected few, there would have been so many more fashion moments to discuss.

Kareena Kapoor Khan

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Kareena Kapoor Khan
Kareena Kapoor Khan in Ritu Kumar (left) and Tarun Tahiliani (right) (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Kareena Kapoor Khan & Tarun Tahiliani)

Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan in Ritu Kumar (by the way, Reliance holds a 52% stake in the label as well). An OK-look, I really like Ritu Kumar, because of her efforts for Indian fashion and artisnary. But I am not sure if this is my favourite look. According to the internet, Kareena Kapoor Khan re-wore her wedding jewellery. For all those who are not too familiar with Indian wedding jewellery: Very often, the bride wears her wedding jewellery only once in her life. But it has been a trend now to re-wear the jewellery which was also seen on other guests of the pre-wedding. I think it makes sense, why would you not wear it? I actually preferred her other outfit in pastel-purple by Tarun Tahiliani.

Sonam Kapoor

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Sonam Kapoor
Sonam Kapoor in traditional Ladhaki attire by Namza Couture. (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Sonam Kapoor)

In line with the Indian heritage theme of one of the functions, actress Sonam Kapoor opted for traditional attire of the Ladakh region. The ensemble was brought to life by Namza Couture, a label which works with Ladakhi textiles. She wore a so-called Mogos, a gown-like piece in green brocade and shiny zari border, paired with a pink shawl which is called Bok. The Bok is traditionally made from goat skin or silk and it is a garment to keep people in the region warm. Kappor’s ensemble was made from silk by artisans in Benaras. At a closer look, the pattern features a phoenix – for vitality and wisdom – and a crane – for peace and prosperity.[17] 

Rhianna

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Rhianna Embroidered Pashmina
Rhianna with an embroidered pashmina shawl. (Picture Source: Official Instagram of Swadesh Online)

Among the international attendees was Rhianna, who performed on the first night in a fluorescent green bodycon and custom-made gown by The Attico. But there is a much more interesting detail of her outfit at the airport: this turquoise stole is a handloom pashmina stole. As mentioned in my article explaining cashmere, pashmina is very fine and expensive cashmere. And look at the embroidery: It is called sozni embroidery and it is extremely delicate using silk thread and practiced in the region of Kashmir. When you turn a well-made sozni-embroidered shawl or stole around, it is very hard to tell the front from the back side. These shawls are often considered like jewellery and are given as gifts at special occasions. They can cost multiple thousands of dollars depending on the workmanship. [18]

Fashion Highlights Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Pre Wedding Celebrations Mark Zuckerberg Priscilla Chan Rahul Mishra
Mark Zuckerberg and Dr Priscilla Chan in Rahul Mishra. (Picture Sources: Official Instagram of Rahul Mishra)

Other international guests were Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan who both wore couture outfits by Rahul Mishra. I am a big fan of Rahul Mishra’s work, especially the detailed embroidery and craftsmanship. Mark Zuckerberg’s tiger shirt was from the Couture collection 2023 and Dr Priscilla Chan looked stunning in the intricate lehenga with a bird-top.[19]

In conclusion, there were a lot of big fashion names “present” at this wedding. While the designs were stunning, I would have hoped to see a greater variety in designers, also more independent labels or up-and-coming designers. This article and the related video were prepared right after the pre-wedding weekend; maybe there were more pictures of guests wearing further designers later on.


Footnotes

[1] Forbes 2024.

[2] The National News 2024 & Official Instagram Manish Malhotra World 2024 & Manish Malhotra05 2024.

[3] Official Website of Manish Malhotra 2024.

[4] Business Insider 2024, Official Instagram Manish Malhotra World 2024 & Manish Malhotra05 2024.

[5] Official Instagram Manish Malhotra World 2024 & Manish Malhotra05 2024.

[6] Harper’s Bazaar 2024.

[7] Vogue India 2024a.

[8] Official Instagram of Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla 2024.

[9] Official Instagram of Tarun Tahiliani 2024.

[10] Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania 2024 & Official Instagram of Miss Sohee 2024.

[11] Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania 2024.

[12] Google Arts & Culture 2024a, Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania 2024 & Official Instagram Manish Malhotra World 2024.

[13] Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania 2024 & Official Instagram of Jodhi 2024.

[14] Official Instagram of Anaita Shroff Adajania 2024.

[15] Christie’s 2024 & Official Instagram Manish Malhotra World 2024.

[16] Official Instagram Manish Malhotra World 2024.

[17] Official Instagram of Sonam Kapoor 2024 & Vogue India 2024b.

[18] Google Arts & Culture 2024b.

[19] Official Instagram of Rahul Mishra 2024.


Sources

Business Insider, Ambani pre-wedding party guests arrived in jungle-themed attire to honor Anant Ambani’s Vantara animal rescue center, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Christie’s, Live Auction 17464 Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence, ‘Mirror of Paradise’ A Diamond Ring, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Forbes, Forbes Profile, Mukesh Ambani, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Google Arts & Culture, Zari Zardozi, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Google Arts & Culture, How to Make a Sozni Embroidery Masterpiece, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Harper’s Bazaar, Blake Lively had a dramatic dress reveal at the Met Gala, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Anaita Shroff Adajania, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Jodi, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Manish Malhotra (brand), last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Manish Malhotra, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Miss Sohee, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Rahul Mishra, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Instagram Account of Tarun Tahiliani, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Official Website of Manish Malhotra, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

The National News, What the Ambanis wore on day two of pre-wedding celebrations, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Vogue India, At London Fashion Week, Indian designers shone bright, last accessed on 7 March 2024.

Vogue India, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja wore the traditional attire of Ladakh, spotlighting the region’s heritage, last accessed on 7 March 2024.


Disclaimer

This article is based on the personal, views, experiences and research of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the organisations and people mentioned above.

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