When Slumdog Millionaire released, most of my Indian friends were quite mortified by the portrayal of India in the movie. I never really got down to watching the film, besides bits and pieces when it came on television. And I am certain if I were to watch the whole movie I really would not have been offended. What I have been noticing though is the major influence India has been making in the design and fashion circuit since the movie. I mean earlier Indian inspiration came only in form of prints and a few graphic symbols like Laxmi or Ganesh on T-shirts and Bedcovers, which came in the category of street fashion or hippie fashion, or there would be a one-off India inspired piece. Whereas now, there are full collections by renowned fashion and design houses which are being inspired by India. And I don’t blame them, in terms of design India has got a whole lot of inspiration, from natural beauty to the fabrics and colours and most importantly its vast history and tradition.
It could well be said that this is because luxury markets have taken a huge hit in Europe and America, while in India it has seen a steady growth. Whatever the reason I am quite kicked by the fact that India is inspiring so many people and collections. After all, I don’t know how many more time I can answer “So do you travel be elephants?” or be known only for snake charmers. The answer to the question by the way is, no we don’t travel by elephants most of us have cars and snake charmers are just one of the market side appeals of the country, no one has pet snakes at home. Here are a few Luxury brands which have showcased Indian inspiration in the recent past.
INDIA INSPIRED FASHION
This year Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld delivered his India inspired collection at the Chanel Metiers d’Arts 2012 Pre-Fall collection titled “Paris-Bombay”. The collection features intricate embroideries, raw silk and other extravagant materials characterise an exquisite combination of delicate Indian handcrafts and Parisian fashion. Models both men and women were adorned with accessories including head-jewellery and turbans. In Lagerfeld’s words “it is the Paris version of the idea of India”. The colours were from Fuchsia, to ivory-white to gold and silver.
Louis Vuitton made headlines in the past when they came out with their collection of bags inspired by India and even changed the window display of their stores by displaying an artwork of Hindu goddess ‘Laxmi’ during Diwali festival. LVMH even launched a collection ‘L’ame du Voyage’ which is inspired by travels in India and the range consists of handbags, travel bags, jewelry and accessories.
Hermes another iconic fashion brand, had recently launched its limited edition Sarees which are an extension of the famous ‘Hermes’ scarf. A silhouette which dates back more than 1,000 years has now been accepted as a ‘must-have’ drape in the fashion world. These Sari’s begin at $6,000 and since most of Hermes clients are Indian millionaires it is considered quite a steal. They also did a whole India inspired collection of scarves with bright colours and motifs like the elephant.
INDIA INSPIRED PERFUMES
In terms of beauty product and scents India has a vast history. There are a variety of materials which originate in India and have inspired designers over the years, like Sandalwood, Jasmine, Cardamom and many more. But over the years more and more Luxury brands and indulging in bringing out India inspired collections.
One of the best and oldest perfumes of great success was Shalimar by Guerlain produced in 1925. Shalimar was inspired by the love of an Indian Emperor for his beloved wife. The love story inspired Jacques Guerlain to create this masterpiece named after the Gardens Of Shalimar where the two Indians found love. This perfume is suitably exotic, blending fragrant floral with sensual notes of patchouli and amber to create a powerful love potion. Shalimar’s recognizable scent has captivated women and their admirers for almost a century now. Jaipur by Boucheron, is another perfume that invites you to discover mystic and enchanted Orient. The bottle is shaped as a bracelet which is considered a lucky charm in Rajasthan. This rich floral bouquet with sweet fruity notes was created in 1994. Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, drew inspiration from Kerala– for Un Jardin Apres La Mousson (“Garden After Monsoon”) This perfume captures the quiet yet natural beauty of Kerala with its blue-green bottle and the smell reminds you of the romance of monsoons.
INDIA INSPIRED MAKE-UP
In terms of Make-up too alot of brands have come up with India inspired collections. They have been inspired by the earthy tones, metallic sheen as well as the bright hues of India all of which goes perfectly well with the Indian skin. Chanel’s ‘Bombay Express’, designed by Creative Director Peter Philips are meant conjure up “a specific vision of India”, from “Surreal princesses from an idealised empire” to “the scent of jasmine” and “lavishness of the Maharajas”. Clarins a Paris-base cosmetic company that designed one of their fall collections based on Indian colors called Enchanted. Holi, a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus, inspires the colors in this collection. The Enchanted line consists of an eye shadow palette with a very Indian inspired packaging design. The collection features lips glosses named Pink Jaipur and Nude Delhi as well as a kajal eyeliner that Indian women have used as one of their makeup staples for centuries.Guerlain has come up with a mineral base collection called Terracotta which is supposed to be inspired by the earthy richness found it India. It has lip glosses by the name of Beige Bengali, Rogue Sultan and Pondicherry. It also has a Kajal mineral coal in Black Fakir.
INDIA INSPIRED ACCESSORIES
Christian Louboutin launched his gorgeous India inspired shoe collection earlier in 2012. This collection draws inspiration from India and Bollywood in particular. Earlier this year, he also opened up his first outlet in India. His love for India and its culture dates back to the days of 70s and 80s. He appreciates the diverse crafts and splendour associated with vibrant Indian culture. In his own words – “If India was a shoe; it would have to be a bright coloured sandal with some gold”. The collection has received a great welcome since its launch, its available in multiple colours, and have embellishments in studs and sequins reflecting the grandeur of Indian craftsmanship.
Judith Leiber has a definite affinity towards India. Besides the India inspired collection of Ganesh, Elephant and Camel they also has Indian fashion designer Suneet Varma design bags for them. Though I am not certain how I feel about carrying a Ganesh in my hand,as pretty as it looks I am certain I will offend some religious person (besides the fact that I doubt I can own the $6,000 piece)
INDIA INSPIRED FURNITURE
Furniture has its own place in India, so where we usually associate Indian furniture with heavy oriental or classic pieces, in the recent past designers have infused Indian traditional pieces with European styles and created a fusion collection. For instance Eames did a limited edition Indian inspired chair. In fact even Indian furniture designers like Alex Davis have come to their own whereby they have been taking inspiration from India and creating furniture collections.
After their presentation of the Charpoy collection Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien continue their partnership with Moroso in the shape of two new products, My Beautiful Backside and Princess. Like Charpoy, these display a fusion of two worlds, India and Europe.My Beautiful Backside has a lacquered wood base frame with large cushions fixed to it to form the backrest. The cushions are covered with Indian textiles and decorated with very large, extremely beautiful buttons. Fabrics include silk and cotton and a Kvadrat wool cloth designed by Giulio Ridolfo which is woven like an Indian silk, the warp and weft are of two different colours.The Princess version, so-called for the Princess and the Pea fairytale, has five mattresses one of top of the other with variously coloured edges
INDIA INSPIRED FABRICS AND WALLPAPER
Indian prints have been great inspiration for fabrics all over the world. This has been going on for years in forms of fabrics and wallpapers. For instance Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s Jaisamand wallpaper for Graham and Brown. He named his line in honor of one of India’s most spectacular natural landscapes and used Rajasthani-inspired colorways. Or Morris & Co. which has had its own Indian design section for a long time. But there are also designers like British design Tricia Guild whose main inspiration for design has been India. She has lived in India and wandered all over taking inspiration and creating designs inspired by India and for India. Her latest collection Amarapali for instance is a beautiful collection with bright flowers.
INDIA INSPIRED FOOD
The French who are undoubtedly the best pastry chefs also took inspiration from India to create the Laduree Bollywood collection. The collection does not extend to flavour as much as the colour and shape. Sold in a box of four, the collection kind of looks like a box of sweets from India: Indian pink being grenadine strawberry, citrus green is mint chocolate, canary yellow is citrus lemon and ivory-white are coconut raspberry balls. The collection is also a slight departure from the usual macaroon recipe. Each ball consists of a biscuit garnished with cream and coated in a very light meringue.