A Bohemian Wardrobe!

In the late 60s through mid-70s, Indian clothing captivated the West. Bagru bell bottoms, psychedelic kaftans, paisley-laden evening gowns — hippie chic spread far across the globe. For many it is a ‘trip down memory lane’ to see these exotic garments on show, so AMHP is dedicating a gallery to display a rotating selection from the Anokhi Collection.

Hand block printing was languishing by 1960 when young westerners started to arrive in Jaipur and, enamoured with Indian style, began experimenting with not only blocks and dyes, but also the silhouettes of traditional dress. Imagination reigned, and inspired by creative local women like Kitty Rae of Kin Fabrics and Lalita Mishra of Shilpi Handicrafts, these novice designers began to re-interpret this heritage craft.

Block printed peasant blouses and dramatic circle skirts were all the rage in The Seventies.

Printed cloth was stitched into theatrical evening gowns, billowing peasant blouses, quilted boleros and more. Elaborate embellishments like tassels, beads and fringe heightened the glamour. Chhipas suddenly found themselves flooded with export orders, and Indian hand block printing flourished once again.

This fusion of traditional and contemporary style, supported by the Indian artisan’s skill and creative adaptability, resulted in a success story that lasted a decade and reinvigorated block printing for future generations. A wardrobe full of lavish clothing and accessories from this era, accompanied by related blocks and fabric swatches, can now be revisited at the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing.

 

Here’s a sneak preview:

 

Recently re-photographed,  this stunning evening gown has a quilted bodice and satin waistband.

 

It’s all in the details: quilted border edgings and hand made tassel-ties of the same dress.

 

The scrolling border print around the neck as well as delicate floral motifs of the main dress were block printed with natural dyes – syahi black, alizarin red and  kassis grey.

 

 

Hand-plaited ‘Turk’s head’ buttons and satin loops outline the quilted bodice of a tailored  jacket.

 

Text: Suki Skidmore

Photos: AMHP archives

 

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