Indian history has always boasted of the Maharajas and their extravagance in relation to the palaces they built, their regal clothes and the exquisite jewelry they wore. Thus this element of luxury, extravagance and attention to detail is something that Indian designer wear prides itself on. Some of the biggest global luxury brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hèrmes and Etro have collections that have been inspired by Indian designer wear and incorporate Indian design in their collections.
Inspired by this craftsmanship, Cartier has been in awe of the exotic motifs of the East and used these emeralds and Mughal jades as part of their early collections since the 1900s (Times of India, 2010). When Cartier visited India during this time, the Maharajas and Princes of India became a part of Cartier’s clientele and Cartier tailored designs to suit the elegance of these royals and this intricacy, customisation and elegance became Cartier’s trademark. Cartier’s rare emerald and sapphire brooch as seen in the image below, is based on a rare platinum carved emerald using a Mughal flower motif in the center.
In 2010, Louis Vuitton created a special collection using radiant colours, gorgeous silks and stunning jewel tones to give their designs a traditional Indian touch. This collection was also available worldwide to celebrate and give homage to its relationship with India. To create Indian designer wear, Louis Vuitton collaborated with the renowned Indian artist, Rajeev Sethi and used local fabric and materials from cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Madras.
Following in the footsteps of Louis Vuitton, in 2011, Hermès also launched Indian designer wear demonstrating the brands admiration for India with a limited edition line of saris. Using their trademark silk scarves, the high-end fashion house released a collection of Indian saris worth $6,100 to $8,200 to Indian customers (Fashion Telegraph, 2011).
Canali soon caught on to this trend and launched Indian designer wear - ‘Canali ‘Nawab Collection’ to celebrate Indian history and the Maharaja era. This collection consisted of Velvet Nawab jackets using 100% cotton velvet and silver buttons to complement a distinguished yet suave look. Canali also used bright colours for the jackets keeping in mind Indian festivities that are associated with warmth and spirit.
Designer Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel described India to be a country “where even the poor have dignity as even poor women own three gold bracelets”. Inspired by Indian designer wear and craftsmanship, Lagerfeld’s Paris-Bombay collection used Indian-styled silhouettes, jewellery and prints by blending ethnic fabrics and motifs with western design.
Last year, Italian luxury label- Etro collaborated with Indian artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra for an exclusive handbag collection. The artists use their designs to give a visual reflection of globalisation and popular culture and use these illustrations over Etro’s quintessential paisley print. The pattern thus, goes back to its original roots with a modern take.
Given the long history and continuing inspiration that India gives to numerous International brands, we believe that the trend is going to continue and a lot of the international brands are going to start making products not just inspired by Indian Design, but designs for the Indian consumer. This is a trend that follows not just design sensibilities, but also economics since Asia, and indeed India, is one of the fastest growing regions for luxury consumption in the world. We are certainly looking forward to seeing more from these International brands.