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India a hot spot for Bohemian fashion

Once a territory of the West, the Boho Chic is now ruled by Indian designs both in apparel as well as accessories.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 17:15 IST
Uma Nair

Year 2005: Fashion in the West was ruled by over-the-top detail that was simply called Boho Chic . "Bohemian Chic is about detailing and styling," relates Washington designer Keya Bala, founder of her own, online destination for fashionable garments.

"It's a look that is very chic and sophisticatedand is being ruled by Indian designs both in apparel as well as accessories. Imagine wooden bangles that you pick up at Janpath for Rs 30-50 is being retailed by Dolce Gabana for $100 with a few designs painted, to add an extra zing!"

"We saw the influences of Bohemian Chic on all the runways and in all the top magazines," attested Linda DeFranco, women's wear trend forecaster with Cotton Incorporated in New York. "It's a global yet earthy look, and it's certainly more refined than anything we've seen in recent years."

So, what are these bohemian hots that tempt today's female shopper? "Long flounced skirts that are called tiered peasant skirts in light muslin or just georgettes, kurtis with embroidery or just with fancy buttons, which they call longer tunics,a fusion kind of kimono style tops like the ones you get at Fabindia,and fuller pants and skirts made of Indian silk," says Keya .

"Even trousers with a little decoration made in India were a hit", shares Keya. "Trousers relaxed ,where the hem is slightly flared, a fuller leg, even in capris. They look more like a culotte or a gaucho. Even that is a hit"

The eclectic mix of ethnic and vintage-feel items, with indigenous Indian elements has come to define the interesting Boho mix. `It's a clever interpretation of familiar but new."says Keya as she shows a set of laquer beads picked up at Janpath but strung on silver chains in Washington's China Town.

For 2006, Boho with its Indian tenor is going to rule every fashion dictate,what with soap stars all wearing kurtis and Indian earrings and beaded necklaces.

"For women, Bohemian Chic allows them to pull items that they've known and loved, so that they can incorporate them into their current wardrobes," Keya explains."Today's fashion in the West is addressing a value-oriented, consumer.And Indian elements seem to add a value of history that everyone wants to cling onto."

Long skirts from India rule Boho Chic and they are free and easy, and have a relaxed yet exotic feeling.White skirts from India were a favourite in midtown Manhattan's boutiques.

Anna Lamstein, manager of Sybele, a boutique in midtown Manhattan, adds, "Our customers are coming in asking for skirts for everyday wear."

The long flounced Indian skirt truly seems to be reclaiming its importance in women's wardrobes. Stores posted double-digit growth in 2004-5,in unit sales (17.5%) and dollar sales (13.7%) for skirts of which 60%were Indian.

Bohemian Chic is also about "natural". "Women want to wear natural fibres,'says Lamstein.`A crinkle cotton blouse with a tiered soft peasant skirt".

Hip and flirty tunics,(kurtis) that have been embellished with embroidery or scallops or appliqué work and are priced anywhere between $32-$150.

Steve Rasso of Details in Virginia, keeps cotton tops and kurtis from India. He also points out the cotton top's importance in boho fashion. "You can buy a couture cotton blouse in almost any colour, and get an updated feel."

"There are plenty of earthy prints like batiks and other ethnic prints that evoke India in fashion, but there is an Asian influence as well, and we're mixing it in with our traditional Western pieces.But Boho Chic today is not glitzy or sparkly, it's more refined,and always timeless."