A Week in India
"I didn't study Indian fashion industry, but I think since the world is so small, you can't help it but see the influence of the Indian fashion industry and Bollywood globally," - Cindy Crawford
As part of our 'Around the world in 31 days' series Rokit takes a look at India!
Fashion, flamboyance and looking good have always been integral parts of Indian culture. India's rich heritage and history of Indian Kings (or Maharajas), Bollywood and street culture has influenced many designers and artists in the western world. Indian dress has become known for its flattering, draped style and vibrant colours with heavy embellishment, intricate patterns and embroidery.
The traditional prints and fabric techniques became popular in British dress during the 19th century and into the 20th century. British textile and wallpaper manufacturers were particularly influenced by the flat patterns of Indian chintzes and embroidery. British shawls based on Indian designs also became popular at this time. The elongated leaf motif was a commonly used pattern. It became known as 'paisley'.
At the turn of the century we started to see Indian dress really come into fashion. The King of Fashion, Paul Poiret, was heavily influenced by the art and design of the Middle East and India. In 1910 he visited the V&A to study Indian turbans and, just weeks later, his haute couture adaptations were on sale in Paris! Another designer during this time, Mariano Fortuny, also had a taste for travel and produced incredible adaptations of Arabic abaia (a kind of caftan), Japanese kimono's and the Indian sari. This was when Designers' fascination with travel started to bring far off destinations like India into the public eye.
Fortuny's contemporary Jeanne Lanvin also pioneered this traveller look. She sought inspiration from countries such as India to create modern collections that pushed fashion boundaries. Her office was more of a connoisseur's study than a dress designer's studio, full of thousands of treasures gleaned from around the world. There were artefacts and jewels, as well as fabrics and clothes from the exotic shores of India. These designers pioneered the influence of other cultures in typical Western dress to create a fresh approach on fashion.
The travelling bug was officially caught during the sixties and seventies when young travellers from the west went eastbound on a Hippie Trail that took them on a journey overland from Europe to India, Nepal and beyond. The concept of the "mystic east" was gaining interest throughout the sixties, and after The Beatles visited India in a blaze of publicity in 1968 the number of long haired hippies hitting the road began to increase dramatically. Everyone who could afford it, and even some that couldn't, jumped in their minibuses, vans or rickety old cars and made the 6,000 mile trek across high mountain passes, scorching deserts, and some rather dodgy roads in search of new experiences, spiritual enlightenment and some decent pot. The traditional dress and cultures of these exotic locations were brought back and worn with aplomb.
Nowadays many international luxury designers take inspiration from India including Marchesa, Dior and Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld produced a collection for Chanel in 2007 which encapsulated India's elegance and tradition. Coco Chanel had previously played with the sari idea back in 1939 and had done a few India inspirations in the early 1960s but Karl brought it into the modern day.
He took inspiration from the magnificent Maharajas of the past and their bejewelled bodies and clothes. Check out some of these images of Maharaja's! We reckon we could pull that off too...
Manish Arora is another designer who is championing Indian design. He was born and bred in Bombay (now Mumbai) and started his Indian inspired label in 2007, mixing his ancestry with modernity. In 2012, the innovative designer joined hands with India's biggest Women's Ethic Wear Retail brand BIBA, to create a joint venture label "Indian by Manish Arora" to bring his sense of design and craftsmanship to Indian wear. In 2014, the brand opened its first flagship store in Paris. His slightly kooky, elaborate designs has earned him the title of "the John Galliano of India." And we can see why!
Indian style whether it is modern or traditional has endless style possibilities. Here at Rokit we're a little bit obsessed with Paisley. We have a wide range of Indian inspired prints and accessories whether you're after a smart shirt or a silk scarf.
Why not go all out sixties and make like a Beatles groupie in our paisley print mini dress. Accessorize by channelling your inner Maharaja and donning our authentic Indian brass rings, ethnic necklaces and colourful turbans. More is more!
Whether you're going all out in an array of heavy jewels, throwing an embroidered Kurta over your boyfriend jeans or just adding a touch of Paisley to your look, Rokit has your Indian inspired look covered. Check out Rokit's range of ethnic jewellery and around the world fashions. Just follow the links below!