Inspired by India – The book presents a compelling narrative of Indian crafts on global fashion

The compendium of Indian designs created by researcher and journalist Phyllida Jay charts a arresting narrative of India’s role in global fashion and design from the 1600s to date. The book highlights how Indian artistry is expunged from global luxury narratives by placing it merely as an insignificant part of international supply chains or an exotic element for European imaginations.

Inspired by India‘ is an exploration of more than six centuries of trade, cultural exchange, and inspiration between India and the West. Through the lens of various material categories, including textiles, interiors, fashion, jewellery, and perfume, marvelous stories unfold surrounding the histories of objects and the complex networks of cultural exchange they represent.

After obtaining her doctorate degree in anthropology from University College London, Phyllida Jay has been writing regularly as a journalist for several publications including, the Business of Fashion, the New York Times, BBC Culture and Vogue India.

Her work looks at society and culture in contemporary India through fashion, craft and design. She is especially interested in the cultural history of Indian craftwork and the role of Indian artisans in international luxury. She is the author of two books, Fashion India and Indian Khadi Cloth: from National Fabric to Luxury Fashion.

The book explores how some of the most legendary design houses have looked to Indian culture, decorative arts and artisanal crafts for inspiration. Indian-inspired objects from luxury houses including Hermès, Chanel, Cartier, and Dior are featured, revealing creative and fascinating stories of inspiration and creativity.

She points out that, in the late 18th century, the Scottish town of Paisley became so successful in cheaply reproducing Kashmiri shawls that the Kashmiri buta motif has been better known as “paisley” ever since.

“To the current pantheon of European craft traditions, we must add new locales, excavate their own histories of luxury and craft, and fundamentally rethink the way we understand the global geography of artisanal excellence, “she writes.

The stunning account of Indian designs in ‘Inspired by India’, also includes rich visual imagery from leading museum and gallery archives, as well as the archives of the world’s greatest luxury houses and renowned fashion designers, including Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen, and John Galliano.

Looking beyond the complex history, Jay foresees a hopeful vision for future collaboration—a testament to which is Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s collaboration with Christian Louboutin—wherein “cultures can inform one another in respectful, productive, and mutually constitutive, rather than exploitative ways.”

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