Why Bohemian Fashion Will Always Continue to be Inspired by India
Think Boho chic (bohemian fashion), and you might summon up images of people with floral hairbands in free-flowing hair and clothes and robes with large ‘exotic’ prints.
Seen from the Western perspective, bohemian fashion has always embraced rich cultures; the idea, put broadly by bohemians, is that such dressing satiates the soul. Not surprisingly, bohemians have always drawn inspiration from culturally-rich countries — think India, Turkey, Egypt, South America — as Delhi-based designer and self-proclaimed bohemian Anupama Dayal tells me.
Dayal’s love for bohemia can be seen in almost every collection of hers —with lots of prints, colour, and flowy fabrics — all designed for the free-spirited woman. Through her designs, Anupama has managed to juxtapose an Indian aesthetic with the geographically unconfined movement of bohemian fashion.
Anupama says India has always been an inspiration for bohemian fashion with its spectacular prints, silver jewellery and fabrics like mulmul and cotton.
Of Prints and Paisleys
Fashion blogger Juhila Saini says bohemians love to splatter themselves with Indian patterns like tie-dye, paisley, and floral. Besides these, indigenous silver jewellery and turban-style wrap have also been liberally borrowed by bohemians.
Boho Chic: Inspired by India
Bohemian fashion’s affinity towards India gained a strong foothold when bohemians started travelling from Europe and US to India in the 1950s and ‘60s, embracing Indian prints and embroideries.
Besides Asia, bohemian fashion has also been inspired by other culturally-rich zones like South of France and Africa; Uzbekistan’s Suzani embroidery is another strong influence on the fashion movement. In terms of inspiration, it is fair to say the movement has never confined itself geographically or politically.
From Haute Couture to High Street
Ironically, what was once identified as bohemian fashion — free spirited, low-brow, away from the mainstream — has been appropriated into luxury fashion. That has in turn trickled down to high street fashion as well. “Bohemian” is now a hot favourite on international runways and stores.
The 2015-2016 Autumn Winter collection by Burberry Prorsum was all about patchwork, patterns and prints — essentially bohemian elements. On the high street, labels like Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters have a section full of “boho” clothes. The easy availability of bohemian fashion in stores has given closet bohemians a handy excuse for going boho.
Way back in 1968, Gerolamo Gimmo Etro started the luxury fashion house Etro, inspired by a trip to India. Etro even used paisley, the Indian motif to create the brand’s identity. Luxury designer Isabel Marant, an inspiration of sorts for bohemian fashion lovers, also uses exquisite embroidery in her collection, much of which can be traced to India.
Indian designer Tanvi Kedia, whose muse is the bohemian, travelling, vagabond woman, too, relies heavily on traditional influences for her inspiration.
Who would have thought that Indian tapestries, Kutchi embroidery, and banjara prints would all someday be called boho chic!