My husband and I visited on our honeymoon six months ago. Intoxicated by the colours, history and most of all the people and friends that we made, we swore to ourselves that we would return as soon as possible. On a bleak January day filled with honeymoon blues, the beautifully illustrated ‘Save The Date’ from our friend Devisha for her brother’s birthday party provided just the reason we needed: it promised a weekend in the ancient fort and dunes of Khimsar with 48 hours of music and the theme, ‘Rajasthan Burn’.
What to wear for such a theme? How to bring together the fantastical, other-worldly Burning Man festival fashion with the exquisite colour and craftsmanship for which Rajasthan is renowned? Happily, through my work with Eco-Age, I was introduced to the brand and team of Purvi Doshi. India is a country famed for its art and textile industry, skills that are passed down from generation to generation. Sadly, they are talents that are at risk of being forgotten due to a lack of demand, a loss that Doshi seeks to preserve through her brand. As the designer puts it: “The label was born out of the urge to give back to the earth… We are using the planet, consuming its resources, while hurting the future of our people and our planet, and this is simply unsustainable and cruel. We should know better as a species.” The brand’s credentials are impressive, from their fabric choices (Khadi, Ahimsa silk and organics) to the care they provide for their craftsmen, “the hands that wield the magic” as Purvi poetically puts it.
First, I started a moodboard. Colour is so evocative of Rajasthan for me and two shades particularly stood out. One is the hot pink of SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace’s interiors, shepherd’s turbans and women’s saris – it even has its own name: Rani pink (a rani is a Hindu queen). The second is blue, inspired by the blue buildings of Jodphur’s famed old city, Bar Palladio floral frescoes and of course, the peacock, the national bird. The two together were a perfect combination. Flowing skirts, eye-catching mirror-work and festive accessories were also on the board.
The first video call with Purvi and her wonderful team was a delight. It was a joy to share my enthusiasm for India and discuss sustainability in the fashion industry. The team understood the brief perfectly and were able to translate my vision into gorgeous hand-drawn sketches within days . We began with a dress but quickly realised a play on the traditional lehenga and choli style (a full maxi skirt and cropped blouse) would be the best route for a night of dancing. I shared my measurements and then the team got to work…
On arrival at Samode Palace, the first stop of our trip, a box awaited me with the bespoke design ready to try on. It was even better than I had imagined: colours brighter, details more intricate and wow – the twirl of the skirt! A few days later, the party began at sunset on the ramparts of Khimsar Fort. We then rode camels into the sand dunes, arriving at an event of awe-inspiring proportions: light shows, trapeze artists and DJs from the four corners of the globe. We danced until dawn, only leaving the beats of the DJ to climb to the highest dune to watch the sun rise. How special to have marked this unforgettable night in an outfit with a story all of its own. A veritable ode to the colours and craft of India.
My love of India goes so much deeper than its sights and sounds. It is the people, their charm, their talent and their effusive, friendly hospitality. It was a privilege to experience this first-hand in the design of this very special piece, especially given the brand’s emphasis on the greater good of their country and preserving its world-renowned craft for generations to come.