Spring-spiration

To write about fashion in this space daily, I follow along with the collections as they happen – months in advance of the actual season they are to be worn in.

It’s a whirling blur of images, video clips, links and stories. I currently don’t have the luxury of sitting front row before a global runway and giving you first hand accounts of fashions, although that is slowly changing with live streaming.  I try to do that with images provided by larger media outlets and still curate what I think is worthwhile – offering you the view from my eyes, that others may miss in a detail here or a reference there.

And while I may see things for the following Spring in a past Fall, it isn’t until the actual season itself that the kaleidoscope of visual fragments settles in my mind, when it comes to what is inspiring me to get dressed that particular season.

Of course, the collections are one thing, but your inherent personal style is always the foundation.

Then, there is the inspiration in the colour of a flower on a morning walk, the drape of a stranger’s dress in the distance on the subway, an old song playing while browsing for books. It really can come from anywhere.

Yesterday, in a search for a particular image online, I was led off the beaten path. Before I knew it, one thing led to a dozen which led to a multitude which narrowed down to a precise moment. Search serendipity.

I stumbled across these images of Jackie and John F. Kennedy’s visit to India in 1962 and for me, they really summed up what is attracting me about fashion this season.

First, there is the return to colour and pattern. I have always loved jewel tones but usually don’t believe in mixing both colour and pattern in the same week, much less in the same outfit.

This dress showed me that you can wear both and still keep it simple with tailoring and cut. The white accessories allow you to focus on the dress and the jade beads are perfect. Were they bought in Jaipur, I wonder?

Jackie Kennedy in front of the Taj, March 1962 on exshoesme.com
Fit for a First Lady.

It also helps to have the most beautiful building on Earth as your backdrop, at all times.

Jackie Kennedy in front of the Taj, March 1962 on exshoesme.com
Jackie Kennedy in front of the Taj, March 1962.

What strikes me about these images is the simplified elegance of the clothes from the First Families of India and the US. Class doesn’t begin to describe it.

Look at the sheen in Kennedy’s dress fabric (looks like Shantung or raw silk) and again, the cinch of the waist and the length over the knee. Look at Nehru’s impeccable jacket (his trademark). And there is the sweetness of the hats on both – very proper, yet playful.

Jacqueline Kennedy with Pandit Nehru getting a tilak on exshoesme.com.
Jacqueline Kennedy with Pandit Nehru getting a tilak, for blessing.

We know Mrs. Kennedy loved her shift dresses, but it wasn’t she who had my attention in this next photo. Rajmata-ji, where did you get those perfect cat’s eye specs? And notice the subtle floral print on her sari, too.

Gayatri Devi and Jackie Kennedy in India March 1962 on exshoesme.com
Gayatri Devi showing Jackie Kennedy what elegance looks like in India, 1962.

One of my constant affections is for all things black and white and I turn to the combination for Spring like an old and dear friend. This image stopped me in my stiletto tracks. So much to take in – where to begin?

Jaqueline Kennedy, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and John F. Kennedy in India 1962 on exshoesme.com
First Families: Jaqueline Kennedy, first PM of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and John F. Kennedy in India, 1962.

The Kennedys are their usual epitome of modern grace, here. You could easily cut and paste each of them into a current photo and they would not look out-of-place. How ahead of their time they truly were.

Pandit Nehru in the jacket that bears his name today – classic kurta length with a flawless churidaar pyjama underneath – it sits just right at the ankles. That scrunched churidaar is the whole reason for skinny pants, my dears. And to pair a white pyjama with a glossy lace-up Oxford is flawless.

Despite all of the many fashion moments within this photo, it’s Indira Gandhi’s look that has me mesmerized. That sari is what a sari should be – graceful, elegant, simple. I don’t believe in the over-embellished, glitzy, halter-blouse saris of today. Why sully seven yards of fabric? Gandhi’s version is so refined – and that gold border was likely made with 24-karat gold thread. Paired with her trademark beads, a subtle gold clutch and that genius addition of the stole that stole my heart, I am without words.

So with the thousands of images of clothes and shoes and belts and buckles and bows consumed over hundreds of days, sometimes all it takes is really just a few to inspire you to dream of a newer version of your old self, for the coming of a brand new season.

Sometimes we have to look to the past to imagine our future.

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