The Word is in From Fashionistas at the Woman of the Year Awards Gala: Sarees, Bindi, Fusion, Jewelry and Color


BURLINGTON, MA- Fashion has become more than just about appearances: women are now making statements about themselves, their talents, their caliber and their professionalism. It was evident at the 16th annual Woman of the Year Awards Gala on June 1 at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA where 20 outstanding women were honored for their achievements in various professions.

Swathi Subramanian

“As women get bolder, so seems to be the fashion that they adorn, for clothing can sometimes be the stride that defines one’s confidence. Twenty women rejoiced in the company of their friends and loved ones who didn’t seem to want to lose this opportunity to pull out their favorite outfits,” said Swathi Subramanian, founder and president of SwaRaag Performing Arts, Inc. “It is a mood set to enhance and celebrate the valor of women in our day.”

Fashionista Preeti Munjal said that 2018 Woman of the Year gala was truly a ‘WOW’ event where attendees turned out in full galore with stunning Indian exclusive wear, graceful western dresses and stylish gowns.

“Gentlemen did not lag behind either creating their own style statements wearing chic ethnic and western wear. The event had no dearth of stunning red carpet fashion, which was complemented with equally stunning jewelry, accessories, shoes, hairdos and makeup,” said Ms. Munjal. “Fashion statements were truly made in courageous, opulent and outstanding designer wear. Majority carried themselves with confidence, sophistication and grace.  There were few fall outs too but they were way outnumbered by the exquisitely dressed ladies and gentlemen.”

Preeti Munjal

She said the hostess, Manju Sheth, emcees Mandy Deb Pant and Jharna Madan, winners and the nominees of the event – all put in a lot of effort to look ravishingly elegant.

“To summarize, the evening at the WOY event was no short than any red carpet Oscar or Filmfare event displaying a great mix of Hollywood and Bollywood fashion,” said Ms. Munjal.

Ms. Subramanian agreed with Ms. Munjal about the hostess and emcees od the evening.

“Dr. Manju Sheth, the key organizer of the INE – Woman of the Year, always seen in her elaborate outfits and bold jewelry, turned the page this year when she came alive in her peachy-pink gown full of gold embellishments. Her striking ethnic Indian gown became a head turner that certainly set the fashion expectations for the evening,” said Ms. Subramanian. “Her two main hosts Mandy Pant and Jharna Madan also seemed to take on a similar color palate in sheers of pinks, nudes, golds and silvers. What made the ladies even more glamorous was presenting the awards in front of the palatial bridal backdrop – a finely carved marble like set in gold, silver, pearl with sprinkles of velvety red by Alankar Decorators.”

The Duo of Emcees of the Evening from left to right: Mandy Pant and Jharna Madan.

Ambika Mangtani, founder of Indofashionz, said that East met West and old met new in terms of fashion at this year’s Woman of the Year Awards Gala.

Ambika Mangtani

“Women wore a diverse collection of clothing, ranging from the latest trends, to classy older looks, and even some in-between styles. Men also showed off their style in their traditional suits. Many lovely ladies wore lehengas – a long-standing staple of Indian culture – but with cold shoulders as a modern twist,” said Ms. Mangtani. “It was great to see dresses accompanied by equally charming polki, kundan, and imitation jewelry. Clutches with intricate threaded designs brought even more elegance to the event.”

She said the winner of the lifetime achievement award, Shobha Shastri, wore a white sari with gold accents, which is a very popular trend today.

“Her gold halter neck blouse added a contemporary touch to her outfit,” said Ms. Mangtani. “Sheetal Kelkar, model and actress of the year, wore matching colors with her daughter, demonstrating how girls learn how to be stylish from their mothers at a young age.”

Amongst the many women who looked gorgeous in traditional looks, the amazing photographer Deepa Jacob stunned all with her big bindi and silk sari, said Ms. Mangtani.

“Talented Annette Philip, Woman of the Year 2016, also sported a traditional look with her green and red kanjivaram silk sari. Thank you to Upendraji and Manju for organizing an event at which women are able to showcase both their glamour and their gorgeous personalities.”

Ms. Subramanian said the warm air brought the mood in – where women prettied themselves in vibrant outfits, jewelry, hair dos and plenty of luminous make-up.

From Left to Right: Kumkum Malik, Lakshmi Narain, Manju Sheth, Indira Desai and Shobha Shastri.

“Like eager birds ready to embrace the summer they lingered in their silks, shiffons and netted sarees with the illusion of a drape over designer blouses while clenching their finest accessories. Some looked to comfort in the arms of their handsome husbands while others preferred to flaunt that perfect gold or silver clutch instead,” Ms. Subramanian said. “Colorful sarees seemed to be the trend of the evening with repeats in a balance of black, cream, red and gold. Making the sarees modern were the halter tops, spaghetti straps, almost backless blouses and stretch belts – which thankfully added the ‘uff’ to them.”

Ms. Subramanian said the fusion of Indian and Western looks was what caught the eye.

Shibani Mathur

“The newness was with the ethnic-gowns full of weaves and embroideries in pinks, greens, blues and peaches. Jewelry stretched everywhere – in necklaces, bangles, earrings, rings. There were no complaints on the oversized ‘Jhumkas’ that loaded the ears or even the many rings that sometimes adorned every finger,” said Ms. Subramanian. “Everything was a go. As your eyes rolled they sometimes stopped on the mark of that prominent red ‘Bindi’ – a comeback from the 70s, which felt like a healthy dot of traditional culture merged into today’s styles.”

One thing noticeable this year was mother-daughter coordination.

“Mothers and their angelic daughters came matched up in caressing faints of yellows, peaches and creams. Some couples worked towards coordinated colors as well,” said Ms. Subramanian. “Men looked fine in their blue, black and gray suits, some in colorful kurtas too. They weren’t looking to outshine the women however there were some that certainly stood out.”

She said the 2018 Woman of the Year title deservingly went to the diligent Indira Desai who was draped in a beautiful midnight blue saree, the color of a giver depicting, confidence, responsibility and persistence.  The Lifetime Achievement Award went to most beloved and benevolent woman of the evening, Shobha Shastry who wore a shimmery white saree reflecting how in the end the colors of life can be tamed by the wisdom of white.

“The backdrop provided by Ms. Shobha Shastry’s company seemed to beckon almost every woman to come on stage to get that much needed perfect picture… 2018 INE-WOY was a glamorous evening where women were happy, congratulatory and were looking to be seen in their best.”

Shibani Mathur, founder of Jewels N More by Shibani, said Woman of the Year gala was yet again an enchanting night.

Dr. Manju Sheth

“It was a night of celebrations, when no women came back home empty handed, the chosen exquisite were righteously awarded, but the rest went home with an abundance – a dream, a goal and admiration for a dear winning friend and most of all, a great sense of appreciation for their community filled with a profusion of accomplishments by women power,” said Ms. Mathur. “A scintillating night was well pronounced with all vivid colors, just like bright, bold and subtle colored flowers combine to make a huge colorful bouquet, so was the feel of the ballroom! Each one contributed to the fragrance and added a dash of color to the bewitching event.”

To sparkle the event, the ladies and gentlemen dressed to their best.

“This year the majority of women preferred to flaunt their favorite Sarees in the choicest of fabrics, georgettes, silks and crepes to name a few. Anarkalis and Gowns were spotted and then, some braved Lenghas as well. A few, successfully attempted the fusion look to differ.The traditional and the contemporary looks were equally championed and yet, the choice of color palette this year was so diverse, from subtle whites, beige, and peach to bright pinks, reds, oranges, blues and greens to even bold timeless black,” said Ms. Mathur. “Where women were adding glamour to the night, men were not far behind, they mostly dressed up in suits and some adorned the fusion looking suits enhanced with brocade fabric.  A few wore bright silk Kurtas and some boldly wore floral printed ties!  I am hoping to spot Jodhpuris, Achkans and maybe more fusion Men’s wear next year.”

Ms. Mathur added: “Fashion statement for me is never complete without the mention of jewelry and accessories. At WOY 2018, a creative and clever juxtaposition of the inevitable played up the ensembles. From Traditional, vintage, heirloom gold, ruby, emerald earrings to Victorian, faux diamond looking necklaces, bracelets and minaudiere, each outfit was enhanced appropriately. With black CHANEL, gold YSL handbags and SWAROSKI studded clutches, the night was pouring nothing less but razzle-dazzle.”

Ms. Mathur said that a few of her favorite looks of the evening were adorned gracefully by classy Anitha Reddy Yajnik, in her gold and beige saree teamed up with a bright green brocade blouse, gold vintage earrings and a stunning gold handbag.

“Poppy Charnalia looked gorgeous in subtle shades of peach lengha and a beautiful Jarau neckpiece, I simply loved her graceful and effortless dupatta draping style,” said Ms. Mathur. “Glamorous Preeti Nigam Munjal wore her sparkling bright peach saree with perfection and used just the right accessories to match.”

She said adventurous Yogita Miharia worked her creative juices and put together a fusion black and white look with a belt over a saree – so in vogue. The lady of the night by far this year was none other than the visionary of “Women of the Year”, a Magnum opus of Manju Sheth, who was glowing all throughout the night in a bright coral brocade fusion Lengha tailored to perfection, worn with utmost confidence and just apt to be the highlight, and shine on the stage, added Ms. Mathur.

“An evening full of fashion statements, glitz and glamour but most importantly multitude of talents and enduring inspirations, was so seamlessly fabricated and conceptualized by the wonderful team work of Upendra Mishra and Manju Sheth,” said Ms. Mathur. “Kudos to all the members of India New England and team WOY for bringing the entire New England community together as one big family and celebrate Women.”


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