BURLINGTON, MA—It was a splash, dazzle, razzmatazz and glitz and glamor all around the Woman of the Year Awards Gala produced by INDIA New England News last Thursday in the Grand Ballroom of Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA. Over 450 elegantly dressed guests gathered to recognize and honor 20 outstanding women in their respective fields. Moreover, it was also an occasion to make a fashion statement.
Here is what local fashionistas said about the fashion during the 13th Woman of the Year Awards gala where Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, the frontline physician fighting ebola and Director of Infection Control, National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, was crowned 2015 Woman of the Year.
“The stage had been set, the drums bellowing to a beat, the red carpet had been laid… And yes, it was time once again for the ” WOMAN OF THE YEAR” award show, a gala evening to celebrate Excellence amidst Splash, Dazzle and Razzmatazz !!,” said Meenu Singh, who is known for her own style. “In the past few years it has become to be an evening all the Bostonians, look forward to and relate to wearing nothing but their finest. As fashion would go I heard women going through a full retinue starting with their nails, hair salons, picking their jewels adorned alongside their much deliberated pick of the attire for the evening. The gorgeous ladies turned out in beautiful saris with embellished blouses and traditional wear with the footwear in fashionable conformity!”
Singh said that in all WOY is becoming a an event of the tread of the Fashionistas.
“The hostess of the show, Manju Sheth, stately and elegant was a feast to the eyes in her flattering draped lehenga. The colors were simply delightful. There were a few women who chose to go lighter with their less elaborate gowns,” Singh said. “The men were more prosaic this time sticking mostly to the jacket and shirt. A few stood out though in their sartorial tastes of the elaborate Churidars.”
Ruchika Arora, a fashion designer and state director for Miss India USA who was also a finalist, said
That fashion at WOY-2015 was very New England Indian style and saree dominated that.
“To me, traditional look was worn best by Sapna Krishnan with right drape, hair and accessories. I always admire designer business suit on women and that also a red one as worn by one of the judges Indira Patel, stole the show,” said Arora. “Among many well-dressed men at the Gala in formal evening attire, Dr Deepak Takhtani made a statement with a dandy red tux. Dr Monica Bharel’s simple black churidaar kameez also looked very elegant and balanced with minimal red and gold details.”
Arora was impressed by Jharna Madan who wore a contemporary saree with gold border and handpainted Radha Krishna.
“For power women- Dr Manju Sheth (contemporary lehenga with gold blouse), Geeta Aiyer (red silk handloom saree), Dr Nadia Bhadelia (wore blue crepe silk saree with sequinwork), Usha Vakil (purple saree with red border)- I want to say clothes do not carry them, they impact fashion as a role model with their significant contributions,” said Arora. “Among all the glam at this awards gala, I missed seeing some current trends from India like stitched saree gowns, palazzo ensembles, heavily embellished long jacket dresses-these might take an year or two to travel this far, would love to see if New England community embrace them.”
Seema Kapoor, founder and owner of Choonri Collection, said Woman of the Year awards gala was a glamorous fun-filled evening with so many powerful people under one roof.
“WOY is getting bigger and more powerful platform which recognizes and honors women a year after year! I believe that fashion cannot be confined to a particular age. Trends might come and go but being a trendsetter can happen at any age,” Kapoor said. “As a designer I am always lookout for eye catching outfits, for both men and woman. I was really amazed to see so many different styles at one evening, from lehengas, suits, traditional sarees to gowns. Some even came in jeans, which is fine. I would say their goal was to be on time and support our top 20 finalists.”
Kapoor was also awestruck by Jharna Madan’s saree.
“If I have to pick one person who was wearing something different and unusual saree, I would pick Jharna Madan. Her saree was hand painted, different and eye catching. You don’t see many people wearing artsy hand painted sarees,” Kapoor said. “Usually men always end up in black suit. I would say Deepak Takhtani was thinking out of box. He was wearing red suit, traditional oriental style. Definitely was eye catching and had a wow factor!”
Lata Rao, a fashionista and founder and owner of Kohinoor Collections, said the annual Woman of the Year event hosted by India New England News is fast becoming the one event where every woman (and her man) dresses in their finest and dazzling Indian ethnic wear, be it sarees, lehngas or salwar suits of all colors and styles coordinating them with jewelry.
“This year was no exception. We were privy to some of the most elegantly dressed women including the wonderful group of nominees and judges. The ladies wore some nice pieces of jewelry, from “maang tikas” to lovely sets ranging from the simple to the elaborate matching them with their outfits. The grace and elegance of the Indian ethnic wear and jewelry was embodied at this event,” Rao said. “The men were not far behind, they came in their wonderful sherwanis, kurtas, or coordinated suits and ties with their spouses clothing colors. Looking around, you got a good idea of the trending fashions and colors. Elegance and brains gave us a potent combination of womanhood that night.”
Sheetal Kelkar, Mrs. India New England 2014-15 and Mrs. India USA First Runner up 2014-15, said her fashion philosophy is that style should be classy and effortless and an outfit should be a reflection of one’s personality. Choosing the correct silhouette to complement one’s body type is very crucial and onfidence is a woman’s best jewel.
“This year INE WOY 2015 was all about glitz and glamor. The overall fashion trend that evening, was cassy ensembles and elegant style’. We saw sarees, Lehengas, Salwar Kameezes, in unconventional color palettes and done very tastefully. The general theme was various shades of blue, red, gold, white and black, and also some other radiant colors,” Kekar said. “We saw a few gowns as well.”
The fashion scene at WOY 2015 was a good mix of timeless traditional looks, as well as latest designer wear.
“Three dresses stood out for me that eve. Dr. Manju Sheth wore a beautiful royal blue Lehenga, with gold blouse and fuchsia soft net dupatta, by Chhabra Bridal. She wore a Lehenga after two decades and I am glad she did, and she carried it very well,” Kelkar said. “I liked it for its grace, cut and fit. I loved WOY 2015 finalist Sapna Krishnan’s traditional white and red saree in thick silk. It was an authentic Indian look, complete with beautiful pearl and gold accessories and a big red bindi. It caught my eye because it is a classic look that doesn’t go out of style.”
She said that Syna’s Collection’s off-white and gold Kerala saree designed by Twinkle Morbia Gautam and worn by Jharna Madan was very popular at the event.
“It had intricately hand painted peacock feathers, and bold sized image of Lord Krishna and Radha’s faces on the Pallu. I liked it because it was a unique statement look,” Kelkar said. “I feel that the Indian fashion scene has evolved rapidly in recent years. I feel that more and more women and men have started taking fashion seriously, and it is great to see that change! Earlier, Indians living in the U.S. did not have many options when it came to Indian outfits, jewelry and other services. But now with so many choices like local Boutiques, Designer wear, Online shopping sites, Custom made outfits and jewelry, Easy shipping and Makeup artists, the possibilities are endless.”
Twinkle Morbia Gautam of Syna’s Collection said that fashion and glamour has by far become an important part of the Woman of the Year gala event of India New England News.
“As a designer and coming from a land that is richly loaded with traditions and cultures as well as where fashion and glamour plays a vital role, a creative blend of all these elements in ‘Women of the Year 2015’ — gala event fascinated me,” said Morbia. “The perfect example of this was Sapna Krishnan (2015 WOY’s Top 20 Finalist). Her very traditional red and white combination saree in a mix of Kanjivaram and Banarasi weaves. The pride of carrying her motherland’s tradition totally reflected on her.”
Jewelry being Morbia’s specialty, quality and uniqueness are the two elements that astounded her at this glamour-studded event.
“Manera Smith, one of the guests attending the event, wore a statement necklace by Betsy Johnson. Its unique pendant with clock is what caught my eye. As a Jewelry designer, quality and intricacy in craftsmanship in jewelry always captivates my eye. To me, this emphasizes the allure of the jewelry. One such enthralling piece was worn my Jharna Madan. Kundan studded necklace set with vintage detailed craftsmanship was awe-inspiring,” Morbia said. “Men, they were perfectly dress in their tightly ironed and ever classy suits. But, what actually lacked was ‘wink of tradition’. Hope to see them with traditional blends in future WOY events.”
Maneesh Srivastava, a local poet and Hindi Manch organizer, said it was his Woman of the Year event.
“I’ve heard about it and seen pictures from past events but it took me by complete surprise when I witnessed it myself. Ensemble of 400+ elegantly dressed people was no less than any famous Red Carpet event. Sarees, Anarkalis and some Plazzo fusion with ethnic Indian Kurtis among the most of the ladies were making eloquent statement about the evening,” Srivastava said. “Contemporary print work on Silk Sarees was something different and new. All men looked dapper in western formals, there was a good mix of Cocktail Attire and Business Casual and Lounge Suits. Tux jacket with silk shirt, bow tie and pocket square of matching color looked festive and complemented the mood of the evening. I have attended many South Asian/Indian events in New York, New Jersey and in New England area, but the class and elegance of the crowd in WOY Gala 2015 was at a different level.”
Dr. Deepak Takhtani, a physician who has a passion for fashion, said that it was again that day of the year when hundreds gathered to celebrate the success of some of their own.
“Almost everyone was elegantly dressed displaying an enthralling range of colors. As the night descended and the neon lights fell on the smiling faces, and the beautiful dresses got drenched in the artificial colors, one could see the sense of pride and a collective feeling of achievement,” said Dr. Takhtani. “It was not beauty of just one person but the beauty of the group as a whole which added to the splendor of the woman of the year event. And if there is one message which colors whisper loudly than it has to be- “We have learnt to dream and make them a reality. Come join in our journey”.
Dr. Meera Subramaniam, said all she saw was energy and enthusiasm.
“What was striking about the WOY event was the energy and enthusiasm in support of the 20 talented finalists,” said Dr. Subramaniam. “On a week day people came out dressed in their best to cheer these wonderfully talented women. The women in the audience were dazzling and the men were dashing!”
Vyjayanti Chhabra of Chhabra Bridal said what stuck out at the Woman of the Year gala from a fashion point of view was that even on a weekday, most people were elegantly dressed and fashionable.
“Many women wore matching jewelry with their outfits. Most men and some women wore western clothing. The outfit that most women wore at the WOY was the good old Saree as opposed to Anarkalis, Suits, and Lehengas. Sarees were worn in the traditional way. Royal Blue and Hot Pink were the favorite colors. Nominee Sonia Sujanani and her mom wore elegant and stylist sarees,” said Chhabra. “The host Dr. Manju Sheth’s Lehenga was striking, formal, and stunning. Pratibha Shah and Chhavi Gupta wore bold Anarkalis, I think. Like I said these days it is hard to tell between Anarkali, Saree, and Lehenga!”