While the internet throws up bits of information on the bandhgala, not many are still aware that the versatile piece of garment finds its origins in the angarakha and the city of Jodhpur. When any garment has survived the cruel test of times, the journey often dates back to its regal past. Bandhgalas, as the name is clearly suggests, are band-collared jackets that spell heirloom and history. The fashion world sketches a few more adjectives into its description; contemporary, versatile and fun. Let’s see how.
With the recent instance being none other than Raghavendra Rathore’s latest collection An Ode to Bandhgala as showcased at the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week, wherein the ace menswear couturier spoke about, well, of course the bandhgala, “To me, the bandhgala in the menswear is the only outfit that has no geography. It is something the minute you make it capable of sustaining in any region, it will sustain there.”
That was in tandem with his views when the designer briefly visited Chandigarh back in 2017. “I firmly believe that a bandhgala is eternal. There is always something new to invent with this heirloom. Be it designs, cuts to suit contours, or patterns for every occasion, the scope with the bandhgala is extensive,” he’d said at the time, while admitting to wanting to see a Johnny Depp or a James Bond in one.
He isn’t the only designer to have given into the charm of the silhouette. Sabyasachi and Varun Bahl prominently figure among those to have thrown their spin on the classic version. “Velvet, tweed, linen; there is not a fabric that bandhgala jackets don’t do justice to. Ideally formal, effortlessly casual, there are many variations of the bandhgala that are equally popular. For instance the Nehru collar is rounded at the edges with a little broad band; comparatively Mandarin collar has slightly sharp edges and is fully closed with a thin band, whereas the Chinese collar is very similar to Nehru collar save for its thinner and fully closed,” Chandigarh-based designer Jainnu Kanwar, who runs the label T.R.I.K’s, emphasis on the slight variations. Among all of these variations, they completely sum up the celebrity dressing, red carpet appearances and grooms wear.
The royal connect
Well, the credit goes the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Sri Sardar Singh, though today’s sleeker silhouette is a far cry from the boxy versions that existed back then, including the uniform jackets during the British Raj.
Get the band right
The traditional way of wearing the bandhgala is with all the buttons done. Till of course, it was restyled and reinvented into top button or two button undone. “It is an extremely arresting piece of garment irrespective of what it is paired with, brooches, jeans, Jodhpuris or pocket squares,” city based menswear designer Amit Bajaj swears by its versatility. “It can easily be co-ordinated with western pants, slim fits, regular fit trousers. And if the bandhgala happens to be in casual fabrics like linen, they can even be paired with jeans.” Brand ambassador of Indian menswear is what he’d like to ideally call the silhouette.
The band of versatility
The fact that it has effortlessly transcended into women’s wear spells volumes about the garment’s versatility and of course the designers’ reinvention. As Rathore added on the sidelines of his show, “We have had good success in the past. The brand has become synonymous to the bandhgala. Also, the idea was to bring in the women’s version. We are making a statement with the women’s bandhgala. It’s not only about the boring menswear look. It has become more fun.” It truly has.
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