The Shopper: A Passage to India

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the dead of winter, few things are more appealing than an exotic vacation spent somewhere -- anywhere -- warm. While shrinking budgets and rising airfares may make an actual getaway impossible, the retail scene offers a virtual escape with exquisite, Indian-inspired wares.

A quick survey of the latest runway collections, combined with the smashing success of director Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire," prove that a new generation of creative types is looking to the world's second most populous country for motivation. Even Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester, known for her monochromatic, minimalist aesthetic, took inspiration for her spring collection from traditional Indian saris and translated it into a collection of draped, knotted and crystal-encrusted dresses and tops in spicy shades of coral and saffron.

Other sartorial nods to the trend range from subtle takes to oh-so-Bollywood. For just a hint of the exotic, slip on Mystique's orange leather sandal with bead-and-jewel detailing. To accessorize a la film star Aishwarya Rai, try on a stack of chic black and gold bangles. Or don Tibi's floaty silk mini-dress -- paired with slim, cropped pants and flat sandals, it gives off a world-traveler vibe without trying too hard.

Looking to feather your nest? West Elm's hand-tufted wool rug, patterned with a traditional henna-adorned hand, is a stylish steal at $99 for the 3-by-5-foot option. You can fully transform your digs with the retailer's new crop of Indian-inspired furnishings, which include wood-block wall art, embroidered pillows and comfy patterned poufs.

After all, you may not be able to jet off to Madras for a week, but that doesn't mean you can't look like you've been around the world.

-- Holly E. Thomas

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