Be it sheep farms, edgy stores or pastry display cases, these globetrotting fashion designers take us behind Instagram images to show how they inspire.
FASHION is no stranger to globetrotting. The colourful stories narrated through cotton, silk and needlework on glitzy runways often begin with a boarding pass to somewhere exotic. Back in 2012, the historic Ottoman Empire inspired the collections of heavyweight designers like Tarun Tahiliani and J J Valaya. Instanbul continues to be a reference point for younger designers like Urvashi Kaur, whose sustainable fashion borrows inspiration from whirling dervishes (she is adding tribal China to her mood board). With many Indian designers educated abroad, there is a vibrant mix of Indian heritage and global ideas. Think Nachiket Barve and the body art and rituals from African deserts or tattoos from the Maori tribe seen in his collections. So this summer, we present designer wanderlust via Instagram holiday snaps from 12 of the best. Read on.
Nachiket Barve in Paris
Paris isn’t unknown territory for Nachiket Barve, who spent a year there at the design school ENSAD. “This city fires all the neurons in my head,” he confesses, adding that on a nine-day trip in March with his wife, he interspersed work—Paris Fashion Week—with a lot of “just absorbing the sights and sounds”. From the food and street performances to the installations in shops, it is a high-voltage stimulus, adds the designer, whose clothes with a story are devoured by style mavens. “We visited Les Halles and Marais, with its vintage shops and independent designer boutiques, where larger trends get noticed first,” he continues, having photographed the Gothic architecture and the “unreal” colours of spring, some of which will be reflected in his next collection.
The couple tucked into triple chocolate Jour et Nuit pastry at Gerard Mulot as “he makes the most insanely fantastic pastries in Paris”
Sarah & Sandeep Gonsalves in Maldives
Husband and wife duo Sarah and Sandeep Gonsalves found a beach holiday in the Maldives to be the perfect break. “The area is a beach lover’s paradise, with clear waters and gentle sands. We indulged in authentic local seafood, deep sea scuba diving, kayaking and snorkeling,” shares Sarah. A sea-view bungalow at the Hotel Velassaru offered privacy and the chance to kick back after the hectic festival season, as well as the opportunity to soak in the myriad shades of blue around them, re-visiting some of the core aesthetics of their bespoke menswear label, SS Homme. The island paradise has also initiated their Spring Summer 2015 line, Summetry, where the predominant colour palette comprises “hues of blues, greys and sand browns,” according to Sandeep.
Besides fresh seafood, sample the coconut bread that is served at most of the resorts for breakfast. Also get in some whale shark spotting
Shivan & Narresh in NY
Like most people, designer duo Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja are not immune to New York’s charms. “Everytime we visit, from the art and design to its varied gastronomical treats, the city is an adventure,” says Kukreja, who prefers to stay near Central Park, closer to cultural activities across the city—from the meatpacking district to the eclectic art galleries of Chelsea and SoHo. “A favourite would be eating at The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art, a perfect amalgamation of art and food!” adds Bhatiya. Inspiration? “Our latest spring summer ’15 collection borrowed from the delicate kinetic sculptures of Alexander Calder, spotted at the Museum of Modern Art as well as JFK airport,” concludes Kukreja.
Anand Bhushan in Stockholm
Art made quite an impression on Anand Bhushan during his recent trip to Stockholm. Besides the Moderna Museet (“where the Maman installation by Louise Bourgeois greeted me”), he also visited the Fotografiska (photography) and The Vasa Museum (maritime). “I’ve brought back lots and lots of pictures and knicknacks—like vintage clothing and textiles—which, when I start conceptualising my new collection, will go up on the inspiration board,” he says. Bhushan soaked in “the Scandinavian sensibility”, especially in the old city, Gamla Stan, with its little shops and local designers. “I really liked how simple and beautifully handmade everything was. I don’t normally relate to simple, but the detailing was so immaculate,” he recalls.
Stop by Svenskt Tenn, an upmarket design space for interiors, to pick up lamp shades, bed linen, coasters and more
Sanchita Ajjampur in Milan
For someone who owns property in Milan, Sanchita Ajjampur is just as animated about the things she saw and did there over the last two weeks, as a first time visitor. The two-week-old Prada Foundation located in an old distillery in an industrial area of Milan was top on Ajjampur’s agenda. “It’s a sprawling, open space that houses all kinds of art—from sculptures to paintings, film, acoustics and interactive experiences,” shares the designer, who is known for her timeless, free-flowing fashion. “What struck me most was the gold building, covered in 24-karat gold leaf. It reminded me of the golden temples of the East, like the one at Amritsar. It could possibly influence my next collection,” she concludes.
Stop at the Gelateria Grom in Milan to sample organic artisanal granitas and sorbets, made from fruits grown on their own farm.
Nikhil Thampi in Krabi
All set to style Dutch electronic dance music legend Armin van Buuren on his India tour next month, Nikhil Thampi is spoiling for a holiday. After all, his last break was in June 2014! “It was a last-minute plan to Krabi in Thailand,” says Thampi, who was dragged along by friends and wanted something peaceful and rejuvenating. “I’m an absolute control freak so I planned fun, non-tourist expeditions like hunting out a secluded cave restaurant called the Grotto. We walked for hours, hopped islands, spoke in sign language and finally reached the gorgeous restaurant and it was the most romantic meal of my life,” he says, adding that the view from his villa of the ocean and the anchored boats, and “the glaze of the sun on the water” inspired his use of reflective fabrics in his designs.
When you leave the caves, head up high to the Moon Bar at The Banyan Tree Hotel in Bangkok. The view from 61 floors up is incomparable
Yogesh Chaudhary in Rome
Seeing original work by French artist Henri Matisse in Rome was one of the highlights of an 11-day European honeymoon for Yogesh Chaudhary. “I love Matisse’s fluid shapes and free spirit. Expect my new collection to be very graphic and to be more directly influenced by his work than what’s come before,” he shares. Apart from mask-making in Venice and having a first encounter with snow in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the couple stayed in a heritage property, Palace Lucerne, Chaudhary found time to soak up the street culture in all three cities. “What inspired me the most was seeing the work ethic of street artists—there was one guy who was folding real leaves to
make butterflies!” he says.
Sample ice cream at Giolitti, a late-night parlour that’s been running since 1900, and the famed Jewish Italian food at Ba’Ghetto, say the newly-weds
Namrata Joshipura in Tokyo
Eternally inspired by the mountains, Namrata Joshipura agrees that travel ‘‘helps you look at things from a different perspective.’’ That her latest escapade to the Annapurna basecamp in Nepal will influence her next collection is a given. ‘‘The vibrant colours of flowers all along the trek inspire use of texture and it comes out in subtle aspects of design like print and pattern,’’ says the avid trekker, whose trip to Japan last year also gave her food for art. ‘‘I was fascinated by Tokyo’s quirky and refreshing street style. Even the architecture, especially the doors at Maison Margiela Omotesando and other details in Shibuya,’’ she smiles, referring to her futuristic A/W collection, elecTRON.
An Issey Miyake jacket was Joshipura’s prize from Tokyo, but a photo at The Nakagin Capsule Tower, resembling a pile of washing machines, is another good souvenir
Pallavi Mohan in the Himalayas
Every year, Pallavi Mohan and her husband Sidharth go on one unusual holiday. This April, it was a trek to the Everest Base Camp. “We walked for 11 days, sleeping in tents and at lodges where over 100 people were forced to share a single bathroom, and I realised how much I valued basic amenities like access to hot water,” says Mohan. Inspired by this, her next collection will be “quite basic in its essence, using a lot of cotton and other natural fabrics.” What kept them motivated was the challenge and the pristine beauty around them. “I use a lot of white. But seeing all the shades of snow, my new designs will have lots more of the colour, along with aqua—for the sky—and the bright green of the grass,” she says.
Register for National Geographic’s October trek (nationalgeographicexpeditions.com) and test your limits with hikes to Kala Pattar or the Base Camp
Rahul Mishra in Australia
His sophomore collection The Village brought in rave reviews at the Paris Fashion Week earlier this year, and Rahul Mishra credits his time in Australia for the entire line. ‘‘We visited the sheep farms, and stayed on one for a long time. This collection uses wool extracted in Gurrundah, a village in New South Wales’ Southern Tablelands,’’ he begins, elaborating on how its beautiful landscape and windmills found their way into his prints. While soaking in the atmosphere and mingling with locals for an ‘anthropoligical experience’, this winner of the International Woolmark Prize 13/14 hints at a ‘genuine’ inspiration from his travels. ‘‘In Australia, how the modern blends so beautifully with the traditional is inspiring. You can see that paradox in my line,’’ Mishra explains.
Head to David Jones Food Halls for fresh produce like meats and cheese, by day or a vibrant party with finger food by night
Anita Dongre in Jaipur
With her unconventional Jaipur Bride amassing followers, Anita Dongre continues to find inspiration in Rajasthan. Her trip last month saw her staying with family in Jodhpur, and finding inspiration in the geometric lines of the city’s stepwell, which she spent time photographing from every angle possible. “You’ll see something emerging from that experience in one of next year’s collections,” she promises. But in Jaipur, she soaked in the quaint atmosphere of the Samode Haveli, and made time for day trips into the Barmer district, where she photographed colourful clothing and picked up textiles made by tribal women. “I always take an empty suitcase and somehow manage to fill it with everything from fabric to furniture,” she laughs.
Live like a maharajah at the Samode Palace (samode.com). Book the Royal Suite—which comes with four poster beds, a fireplace and painted lounges—for Rs 24,500 a night.
Shantanu & Nikhil in Jodhpur
Brothers Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra, who recently launched a collection fit for modern royalty in Hyderabad, say Jodhpur brings their design sensibilities into focus. Their holiday in the walled city saw them residing at the beautiful Raas hotel, with its pink latticed screens and bathtubs set in stone. ‘‘It resonated with the cultural essence of Rajasthan, while Mehrangarh fort, with its magnificent landscape gave a new definition to contemporary luxury and came with archival value,’’ says Nikhil, adding, ‘‘From the textured walls to the flawless blend of vintage architecture with modern amenities, there was attention to detail at Raas.’’ He says the luxurious lifestyle and mannerisms of the Maharaja and Maharanis also helped them explore larger-than-life grandeur through their designs.
Celebrate at the regal Umaid Bhawan Palace’s 185ft-high central dome. And buy tie-and-dye saris from Padma Shri Mohammed Tayeb Khan
Inputs by Surya Praphula Kumar, Maegan Dobson Sippy, Aakanksha Singh Devi, Mrinalini Sundar and Rashmi Rajagopal