BURLINGTON, MA—The dazzling Woman of the Year awards gala last week evoked strong accolades from attendees, some calling it a coming together of genius, grace and glamour and others saying it was not only an event to recognize and honor outstanding women in their respective fields, but also an occasion to make a fashion statement.
“This was my first WOY event. I would like to call it a 3G evening—a coming together of genius, grace and glamour, if I may. I was mesmerized by the multitude of colors, a lot of it, more vibrant than the rainbow and more gorgeous than one sees in Bollywood movies,” said Dr. Deepak Takhtani, who has passion for fashion. “In America, there is a pressure to conform—even on a subject like what one should wear in a party. It is nice to see that Indian women resist that pressure and retain their individuality. At the WOY show, they knew it was a celebration of their achievement and they were ready for it.”
Dr. Takhtani said one could see quite confidence on the faces of the attendees.
“After centuries of struggle, they are proving that given opportunity, they are no less than any other group. There is nothing more appealing and elegant than a confident look. Everyone looked beautiful in a unique way- most were elegantly wrapped in colorful saris, a few had unique hair styles, and others carried exquisite accessories,” Dr. Takhtani said. “In my personal opinion, nothing adds to beauty of a face more than a bindi of right size and color. And to my satisfaction, there were plenty on display that night.”
Krithi Nathan, who won the Miss India Teen New England contest in 2012, said she felt the event was bustling with different styles and colors, making it quite a fashionable annual extravaganza to remember.
“As per a fashion point of view, Woman of the Year 2014 had an abundance of fashionistas who stood out in their individual styles. Even though it was a rainy day, everyone was surely dressed to impress. Particularly, I noticed a majority of women gracing the occasion wearing gorgeous designer sarees, grand anarkalis, and kanchipuram silk sarees— all paired with matching jewelry, ranging from classic kundan to contemporary sterling silver. Some wore formal updos but majority left their hair down, showing off modern pixie cuts to traditional long tresses,” Nathan said. “However, the men’s attire for the event was on the contrary. I didn’t see any traditional sherwanis or other “Indian” attire being worn, but the classic black tuxedo paired with classy accessories dominated the event.”
Nathan said that despite being a serious event held to honor the hard-working women of South Asian community, WOY is also a great opportunity to meet new people and to showcase one’s own sense of fashion to the community. All stood out in their own way but some members were dressed a little differently than usual.
“First and foremost, WOY 2014 Geeta Aiyer was draped in a simple cobalt blue saree and minimal jewelry—something quite unique for the evening. I also admired her loosely tied hairstyle, which portrayed a humble traditional look,” Nathan said. “Dr. Manju Sheth (hostess of the evening) showcased a classic cream ankle length dress with churidhaar along with a updo, decked with a rose-a look quite different from her normal style.”
Nathan said WOY 2013 Poonam Ahluwalia rocked a violet silk saree, draped in a Gujarati style, paired with minimal jewelry- her signature style. “I loved her use of a decorative brooch to spice up a simple look,” Nathan said. “In terms of jewelry, I thought designer Twinkle Gautam rocked a dazzling black, neon- bordered designer net saree with intricate earrings and studded bangles. Also, designer Ambika Mangtani sported sparkling palm-wide jhumkis which I thought were really interesting and gorgeous!
Singer Anuradha Palakurthi, along with many others, sported a South Indian look wearing a grand chocolate brown silk saree with pure gold zari. I thought Deepti Navaratna’s Indian embellished skirt paired with a black solid top was quite refreshing amongst a night of sarees and salwars.”
To add to the uniqueness, Miss India New England state Director Ruchika Arora, Miss India Teen New England 2013 Shirin Bakre, and WOY Nominee Sonali Lappin, along with many others, rocked western outfits that added an American touch to the evening, added Nathan.
Nathan also spotted a sense of style among youngsters.
“Youngsters wore what was in mode today: bright designer sarees with deep neck/ halter neck blouses and flowing anarkalis,” Nathan said. “I didn’t notice many lehengas or ghagras (maybe because of the weather?). Some chose to wear short sequined western dresses, which also contributed to the glitter of the evening. It was nice to see so many youngsters experimenting with fashion!”
Meenakshi Rana of local band Din Check said Woman of the Year gala has also become an event for fashion icons and some who take fashion seriously follow it no matter what.
“This is the beauty of WOY. It is a very serious affair. And I believe that is why it is so dignified and respected. And I think yes people do make it fun, fashionable and glamorous, not so much to make a fashion statement but to respect and match up to the grand panache of the event,” Rana said. “We don’t go there in clubbing or party outfits, we pick the most stylish yet elegant outfit. Ethnic Indian seems to always rule. Some who take fashion seriously follow it no matter what. But then there are always some who have their own league and style. But everyone still looks their best for this most reputed event.”
Rana, who has been attending WOY for last three years, said organizers of the event have elevated the level, ambiance, organization and delivery of this show, also, the people attending this event have increased the glamour, style, fashion and sophistication.
“People look forward to attending this dignified event in the most fashionable and elegant get up,” Rana said. “And at this year’s WOY, the everyone was very well decked up in compliance with latest fashion to match up to the events grace. I think WOY has become one event where we get to see the best of best and so everyone comes to the event in their very best.”
Jolly Bhatia, another member of the Din Check band, said that in the past few years that he has been attending the WOY awards show it has evolved into a celebration of many different aspects of what defines being Indian.
“And along with fun, food, festivities, music, and dance – dressing up for a celebration is so core to our culture. All the colors of traditional and modern day Indian fashion were very visible at the WOY awards gala this year again,” Bhatia said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this were to turn into the red carpet event of the year in the coming years with Hosts walking around asking the attendees – who are you wearing today?”
Meenu Singh, who is known for her style, said Woman of the Year Awards gala does commemorate women in their accomplishments and their impact on society elegantly but fashion is also an integral part of celebrating womanhood.
“It was obvious to note the spectacular display of attire and accessories of the various women who had donned nothing but the best. Setting the bar was none other than the hostess of the show, who was enchantingly dressed in an ornately fashionable dress which was quite a centre stage by itself,” said Singh. “I had the privilege of attending the WOY for the first time last year and gathered that it is one of the most premier events in town if not “the most”. And this year I saw that I was not alone in this surmise.”
Singh said: “Gracious in all the splendor the event was a “Mega GALA Night” immaculately planned and done with a lot of élan. WOY from hereon has become the much awaited night to make a splash while having fun together.”
Singh’s husband, Animesh, added: ” The guys were not to be left behind and we noticed quite a few, befittingly dressed for the occasion, elegant and suave in their their jackets and some with neckties.” He And hoped that in the events to follow we would see more men in the appropriate formal attire. Singhs recently won best-dressed couple award at an event.
Twinkle Morbia Gautam of Syna’s Collection said that two words came came to her mind at the WOY gala: “Timeless’ and •Classic.” She said these words summed up the description of fashion at the event.
“Quite a few caught my eye and would like to mention it here: Mrs. Geeta Aiyer — in our very own •Swadeshi Khaadi’ saree matched with simple jewelry. Mrs. Shefali Desai Kalyani — In time-honored and quintessential crisp Gujarati style with real gold jewelry — that reminded me of my mom’s era,” Morbia Gautam said. “These two women were non-trendy, yet simple, classy and elegant, a soothing contrast to the otherwise glamorous multitude. As well said by Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Morbia Gautam said that jewelry piece that she couldn’t take her eyes off was the neckpiece worn by Ms. Jasmine Shah – simply matchless and immortal.
“Lastly, how to forget men! At WOY 2014, men were no less. They made sure to leave a mark. I recollect the dauntless ties two gentlemen had sported that evening. They definitely stood out in the crowd. Preetesh Shrivastava in golden tie with black classy prints and Sanjay Thakkar in bold pinkish peach tie, which was an eye catching contrast with his black suit,” Morbia Gautam said. “All the top 20 powerful women had •Elegance, Grace & Glamour’ and it surfaced in the community and shone like the moon, only because an event like WOY (acted as the SUN) brought them to limelight. It’s always wonderful to be elegant, it’s always fashionable to have grace, it’s always glamorous to be brave. Most of them, in traditional Indian attire, proud and confident on the stage, itself made a fashion statement and this event unique. ”
Morbia Gautam said there is no outfit that could come close to the glamour quotient that a saree exuberates.
“It’s endless swirl of beauty, feted in fashion circles, adds that ethnic punch into one’s personality,” Morbia Gautam said. “This •traditional Pahnawa’ draped by flawless beauty – Roshni Mirchandani with the •Statement Style – Siddha Palla’ by outstanding Poonam Ahulwalia to the •Glamourous Style’ by bubbly Jharna Madan, the warp and weft of which showcased our Indian traditions at the event. ”
Ruchika Arora, who holds a degree in fashion and heads Miss India New England Pageant, said that since WOY Awards Gala is about women leaders and achievers, her attention was on power statements more than a fashion one.
“In Western dressing, a blazer can add strength to any attire, but here Saree dominated in its timeless fashion and I enjoyed beauty of natural fabrics (silk, cotton) specially made in handloom, minimal patterns, strong colors (cream/white, black, maroon). The focus was more on tradition than current fashion trends,” Arora said. “According to me, a saree was worn best by Mrs. Kota who wore classic silk in cream with orange border, (I think I favor minimalism) le noir matched with ever elegant Mrs. Neena Gulati and looked great on Sonali Lappin (LBD with pink stole) , Ms Jasmine Shah made a creative statement with printed text on cotton, most unique yet strong silhouette was worn by Dr Manju Sheth, vegetable dyed cotton in traditional Indian colors worn by Sarita Vaswani, best blouse was worn by Malathi Shastri, glittering white by Shirin Bakre-Miss Teen India New England, Indian tunic was worn elegantly by Mrs Neelam Wali. For men’s clothing, I liked neon blue tie with formal business suit.”
Arora said she is an admirer of all WOY themes and decor.
“I noticed last year’s stage was chic sophistication and this year it was glitzy glamour and I enjoyed crystal center piece on my table,” Arora said. “I strongly believe clothing reflects your attitude and personality and in one sentence the fashion of evening at WOY-2014 was- “I’ll never be the girl you want me to be because I am a woman I need to be.”
Divya Salhi, an upcoming fashion designer, said that she personally adored all the preparation the organizers had done to make it so successful.
“June 5th at Burlington Marriott played host to the biggest women event of the year WOY 2014 in a style. Dress to impress was the theme noticed at WOY2014.From casual to couture no one does better than our Indian ladies. This year the red carpet at WOY saw lot of tradition and glamour. From lace to sequins, and from silks to georgette’s, with classy up do’s and elegant jewelry it is safe to say that this event was pretty much like a Bollywood version of red carpet,” said Salhi. “The guests looking their best in vibrant colors for summers with the modern touch on accessories and traditional zari, kundan and antique gold was seen everywhere in the event. I personally adored many guest each were elegant in their own way. Playing the perfect host and looking majestic were Manju (sheth), Mandy (Pant) and Aditi (Taylor) who stole everybody’s attention by proving that either one should be a piece of art or wear a piece of art in their ethnic outfits. All over it was really an inspiring night with lovely guests adored in traditional yet elegant styles.”
Kalpana Shetty, a well-known realtor, said WOY event has become a great occasion to dress up and bring out best outfits.
“Women wore the latest fashionable clothes ,and had their hair done to perfection. Yet more traditional sarees and Indian outfits to reflect out Indian culture however westernized they are,” Shetty said. “The uniqueness was the bond among the women. I saw that more women showed up to this event….which shows that women want to show support to all the successful ladies and hope that they would be one of them in the future and would want to strive for that…Great inner Motivation.”
Shetty said WOY is a great event to recognize women.
“Women now are more confident and secure about themselves with their education and their respective careers,” Shetty said. “Women of the Year event is an Event which showcases women of power and success in a positive way and being a mentor for others…….and paving way for the younger generation to be more empowering.”
Manisha Chowdhary, director at Manishum Early Education and Child Care, said Bhawana Motiwala’s saree caught her attention.
“I loved Bhawana Motiwala’s saree that she wore to WOY. It was an elegant cream color saree with a nice border. As soon as I entered she touched my heart. Bhawana Motiwala looked beautiful, lovely, elegant & stunning in it,” said Chowdhary.
Dr Sheth , the hostess and organizer of Woman of the Year 2014 Awards Gala, summarized: “One of my most favorite quotes is by Coco Chanel: ‘A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous’ and there is nothing better than empowered women looking elegant and fabulous . We saw that in abundance at
WOY gala. Not surprisingly, it has become the red carpet event of the year.”