We like to think we look at the world a little differently and love building our collections on the nuances of our heritage and the innovations of modern India. We spent the end of last year in Bombay and Calcutta (as is our Christmas tradition) and these two cities for us symbolise the mixing of the past and present perfectly (imperial splendour steeped Calcutta + a Bombay that outpaces any other Indian city )
We were wondering about how best to show you all the places and details and patterns we had seen on our travels and decided that is it colour that binds everything together. So here is our ‘India Modern’ colour palette. We are not professional photographers – and some of these images are taking during a dying twilight on a rooftop in Calcutta or in the dark sandal-wood scented corridors of Bombay hotels but here they are.
I set off for New Delhi in June – the capital and political hub of India. Delhi as the first port of arrival was rare, it was mostly Bombay or Calcutta which reigned supreme for me running off the tarmac to see friends and family, putting pleasure before work. This time however the capital was beckoning. The sense of excitement, romanticism and urgency made me want to fly like no other time.
We had successfully completed our launch for Napeansea earlier this year and ready with ideas to bring in our next new collection. Whilst I was prepared for the heat and dust to greet me, India always evoked a sense of nostalgia and history like no other place and now more so heightened by Lutyens’ Delhi ( an area in New Delhi, India, named after the British architect Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944), who was responsible for much of the architectural design and building when India was part of the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s) My book of choice, Nehru and Edwina my companions, for a nine hour flight seemed befitting to my destination.
After a quick shower and breakfast on arrival early in the morning, I was ready to brace the heat by mid-day (not really) – it was like being in a blast furnace and my body was ready to melt and be moulded. Ironically it was H.P. Singh at ‘ Nehru Place’ which gave me air-conditioned solace in four floors of fabric heaven. A trip to Nehru place for textiles is incomplete without visiting H.P. Singh. There are many more stores too in the area which have direct mill-access, whereby you can expect wholesale prices for handloom and cotton material. Yards of silk, linen, net, crepe and georgette are also in abundance in a variety of colours and prints. They generally have fixed prices, but you can ask for a discount when buying in bulk, making this one of the cheapest cloth markets in Delhi.
“On the Verandah, the serious business of lounging is in progress. People spill out from the shadows, and laze gratefully in the sunlight. Ice cubes clink inside crystal tumblers. Sunlight warms the brocade fabrics and carved wood of the heavy antique furniture. Shelves – filled with well-thumbed books – sit beside faded old photographs. A thin coil of sandalwood smoke rises from gently burning incense, and scratchy old jazz (Taj Mahal Foxtrot, anyone?) floats out of a 78 playing on the old gramophone. A light breeze ruffles the pages of the Times of India on the sideboard. The armchair creaks as someone settles further into its inviting bulk, sighing with contentment.
Ties are loosened, layers sloughed off. The scent of mint from a freshly-mixed Julep lingers in the air. A waitress refills glasses of Chai from a large battered teapot.” – Dishoom
The experience of the Verandah in Dishoom in Shoreditch which was inspired by the old Iranian cafes of Bombay has always held a glorious and bittersweet nostalgia for us (you can read about our history with Bombay here).
Over the years we formed dreams in our homesick hearts and began putting block-print to linen. Our vision of a parallel world of contemporary lifestyle accessories underpinned by the spirit of balmy Bombay society nights, the respite of a cool verandah on a searing afternoon and the whisper of the sea breeze through the palm leaves of ‘Nepean Sea Road’ (pronounced Nape-Ian-Sea) slowly began to take shape.
In the initial days of visualising our brand and the ideal locations to shoot our products we could only think of one place in London that would fit into our dreams. Suffice to say that writing the title of our first blog today post was an incredibly surreal moment!