Though women in general are extra cautious while dealing with their dresses, but few dresses like lehengas hold a special place because of the sentiments attached. Many of such pieces usually see an exchange of hands over generations and are handed down to the future generations as a heritage. This makes them invaluable and levy upon us the responsibility to treasure the emotions as well as heritage associated with it. Embroidery is an integral and differentiator for lehengas. The sheer craftsmanship and workmanship not only add to the richness of the outfit but also increases its beauty. However, easy said than done, it is often seen to be challenging task to keep the sheen and beauty of embroidery of these vintage dresses intact over the time.
There are prominently following types of Embroidery on Lehengas:
- Zari: This is usually done on luxurious fabric usually silk. It uses threads of gold and silver that adds the richness and heaviness to the outfit. Being rush free and durable in modern times the use has been adapted to suit the likes of chiffon and georgette fabric as well.
- Zardozi: Like Zari work it also uses gold threads to weave embellishments usually comprising of precious stones, pearls, etc. on luxurious fabric such as silk, satin and even velvet to give a modern touch. It can also be mixed along with other embroidery work to add to its richness,
- Chikankari: It draws its influence from Persia and is often confined to the craftsmanship of Lucknow. It crafts with precise workmanship, floral motifs on usually neutral and basic colors to create a simple yet rich look.
- Gota Patti – This Mughal era Rajasthani style form creates the appeal on the fabric by using gold fibers usually on silk. In modern types z lighter version of the same using copper threads is also used of chiffon and georgette.
- Phulkari: As the name suggests this style often uses the garden or floral theme. It has strong roots and influence from Punjab. Uniqueness of the embroidery is that it is done on the opposite site of the fabric to form the pattern on the upper side of the fabric. It usually uses silk threads to create patters. Usually it was done to create dupattas and shawls but with time has also been used to enhance the appeal of lehengas.
- Dadka: These are prominently used to create 3D appearance of the embroidery on lighter fabric such as chiffon. It uses a cotton thread that is covered with metal coil to create highly detailed designs.
- Cut Dana: Raw lustrous and coated fabric material is often cut is different shapes and sized and arranged as a pattern on the fabric to ensure light being reflected. A thread embroidery using complementary colored threads enhances the look of the same.
- Mirror work: Mirrors in varied geometrical shapes are sewed using cross stitch embroidery to the base fabric. It has geographical prominence especially in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- Applique: Often referred to as Patch work. A piece of fabric / or fabrics is needled on the base fabric to create 3D look. It arrived in scene through French Fashion and has soon earned a place among Indian Lehengas as well
- Gara: These have prominence among Parsi community and uses natural motifs like flowers and birds. It has a saree look and the elegance is enhanced with detailed embroidery work.
The following tips are useful while dealing with embroidery:
- Keep the embroidery covered with a clean cloth preferably bleach free muslin.
- Avoid the use of hot iron on embroidery. It is advisable to iron them at normal temperature.
- Avoid direct touch of iron to the embroidery. Place a clean cloth to cover the embroidery and then iron it. It also prevents threads to get tangled during ironing.
- Avoid exposing embroidery to direct sunlight to prevent color fading.
- Avoid exposing embroidery especially zari work from perfumes, talcs, etc. to prevent discoloration
- Avoid direct exposure to moisture and humidity to avoid oxidation and discoloration.
Despite the type of embroidery work on the Lehenga, most of us have to deal with the yellowish or browning of the embroidery work as the time passes. The main cause for the same is the oxidation of the embroidery work as it comes in direct touch with moisture and / or humidity and direct exposure to the light and / or sunlight. With the prolonged and continuous exposure to humidity and light leads to photo degradation that causes weakening of fabric, threads and color loss in addition to making them prone to yellowing. Yellowing is also evident due to exposure of environmental pollutants such as NOX, Ozone, etc. An exposure to humidity often results in formation of a thin layer of water on the surface that on tapping sunlight and converting to ozone that reacts with the fabric and / or thread and causing yellowness or browning of the same.
Being a piece of heritage and a dress that evokes high emotional quotient it is compelling to ensure the fabric and its unique differentiator – ‘the embroidery’ is bestowed with the tender, love and respect it deserves. PVC Made Saree and Lehenga Covers prevents the lehengas from the direct exposure to sunlight as well as from humidity and moisture that causes the embroidery to oxidize and hence corrode the embroidery and embellishments.