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Cross-country collabs: we look at the times global fashion brands embraced Indian elements

by Ashima

From couture saris to turbans on the runway, check these out.

By Ashima Sethi


In 2010, high-fashion brand Louis Vuitton paid tribute to the spirit of Diwali with a collaboration with Indian artist, Rajeev Sethi. During the November to Christmas period, the fashion house had window displays at their stores worldwide featuring Indian elements, including hand-painted paper trunks that were glowing with lights from within (a tribute to the festival’s many diyas), as well as limited edition dresses made from vintage sari fabrics.


In 2016 Swarovski announced their collaboration with 11 Indian designers including Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, and Suneet Verma, to launch a jewellery range called ‘Confluence’ that would mark the brand’s 15th year doing business in India. Still available online, the initial collection comprised of a total of 80 designs but grew as the months went on. Pieces are priced between 4,000 rupees and 15,000 rupees and encompass everything from statement bangles to pendant necklaces, chandelier earrings, maang tikkas, and more.


On two separate occasions, turbans were photographed on the high fashion runways of Europe. In 2007, Prada introduced a series of turbans in vibrant colours on their runway. Similarly, in 2018, Gucci’s menswear show included a number of cobalt-blue turbans, which received mixed reviews. Some people called out the brand for cultural appropriation, while others including Hardayal Singh from United Sikhs stated that turbans on the runway might normalise them in mainstream culture, thus reducing the stigma attached to them.


Last year, Sabyasachi, one of India’s most recognised couturiers collaborated with H&M to launch a limited edition collection of 22 womenswear styles, 13 menswear items, and 32 accessories spanning jewellery, scarves, shoes and bags that were available in select stores. This offered the opportunity for fans of Sabyasachi to get their hands on his designs without breaking the bank! Popular items included a twist on a traditional salwar kameez that was reinterpreted as a tunic and pyjama-style bottoms, as well as a terracotta-hued viscose sari that boasts a signature print.


For Chanel’s 2012-13 pre-autumn/winter collection, Karl Lagerfeld drew inspiration from Indian Maharajas. Featuring regal shades of white, gold, silver, and fuchsia, and silhouettes ranged from embroidered jumpers and classic tweed co-ords adorned with Indian accents, to tunics and dresses with hand-painted floral motifs, metallic saris, and jackets that resembled kurtis. Beyond the clothes, every models sported kohl-rimmed eyes and the brand’s take on maang tikka headpieces. Chanel’s timeless purses were also given and Indian-inspired makeover, each featuring metallic embellishments.


Hermes has launched several sari collections beginning in the year 2000. The initial collection retailed for approximately GBP 1,200 each and were designed by Kolkata-based designer Sunita Kumar, wife of Indian tennis player, Naresh Kumar. In 2008, the brand launched another collection of sari-dresses with the help of Jean Paul Gaultier, and then in 2011, a collection of five silk saris with matching blouses. Beyond clothing, the brand has also previously launched collections of scarves printed with Indian motifs, and their Garden of the Monsoon fragrance inspired by the arrival of the monsoon season in Kerala.

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