Why Bohemian Fashion Will Always Continue to be Inspired by India
Fashion bloggers wearing maxi dresses with antique silver jewellery and a bandhni print. (Photo: CrazyHeart)
Fashion bloggers wearing maxi dresses with antique silver jewellery and a bandhni print. (Photo: CrazyHeart)

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.

1970s Boho chic fashion. (Photo: Tumblr)
1970s Boho chic fashion. (Photo: Tumblr)

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.

One of Anupama Dayal’s creations. (Photo: Anupama Dayal)
One of Anupama Dayal’s creations. (Photo: Anupama Dayal)

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.

Boho Chic: Cropped jacket, worn over an ikat dress stitched in Delhi, and ikat handbag sourced from the Orissa Emporium. (Photo: StylePile)
Boho Chic: Cropped jacket, worn over an ikat dress stitched in Delhi, and ikat handbag sourced from the Orissa Emporium. (Photo: StylePile)

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

Indian paisley print. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Indian paisley print. (Photo: iStockphoto)

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.

(Photo: Anupama Dayal)
(Photo: Anupama Dayal)

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.

1970s boho fashion. (Photo: Tumblr)
1970s boho fashion. (Photo: Tumblr)

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.

Burbery Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2015-2016. (Photo: Burberry)
Burbery Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2015-2016. (Photo: Burberry)
Burbery Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2015-2016. (Photo: Burberry)
Burbery Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2015-2016. (Photo: Burberry)

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.

Models wearing pieces from Etro’s Autumn Winter 2015/16 collection. (Photo: Etro)
Models wearing pieces from Etro’s Autumn Winter 2015/16 collection. (Photo: Etro)

Indian designer Tanvi Kedia, whose muse is the bohemian, travelling, vagabond woman, too, relies heavily on traditional influences for her inspiration.

Pieces from designer Tanvi Kedia’s collection. (Photo: Facebook/Tanvi Kedia)
Pieces from designer Tanvi Kedia’s collection. (Photo: Facebook/Tanvi Kedia)

Who would have thought that Indian tapestries, Kutchi embroidery, and banjara prints would all someday be called boho chic!

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