To rule our land, a noble Dame, Kind was her heart, and bright her fame...
And Ahilya was her honored name. So went the final line of Scottish poet Joanna Baillie’s 1849 poem, an homage to India’s late Queen Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar. Born in 1725, and married off to the son of a Maharaja in Indore at age eight, she would, by forty, assume the throne. The nearly thirty years of her reign that followed are considered a golden period in the truest sense. A time of peace. A time of tolerance and benevolence. A time when creativity flourished. Ahilya would crown Maheshwar the capital, growing it into an epicenter for culture and the arts, and laying the foundation for a handloomed textile industry to produce the now emblematic gossamer-fine saris. On our own voyage to the serene enclave her spirit was palpable, not least of all because we made our home at her onetime residence. A place where afternoons are spent lazily strolling the sacred river Narmada’s stone banks which, on laundry day, are transformed into a montage of kaleidoscopic color by saris baking in the sun. And where evenings are devoted to sipping tea from a pillow-strewn perch in one of the fort’s intricately carved turettes and watching as dusk slowly sets in, painting the vast sky a soft-focus wash of dusty roses and lavenders before fading to black. For Autumn/Winter 2016 Anaak hearkens back to Ahilya’s reign in both spirit—proud, rebellious, strong—and substance, with a number of textiles being produced by a modern-day Maheshwar collective of women weavers carrying on the town’s hand-looming tradition. The collection’s common thread: silhouettes minimalist in design, but maximal in impact. There are deliciously roomy, alpaca yarn sweaters in a frothy ivory and modern dobby-striped jodhpurs; delicate raw silk, tea-stained slip dresses and breezy, smoky grey peasant minis; slouchy, raven-hued cashmere pants and a floor-grazing dress emblazoned with burnished metallic embellishments. The definition of a nomad is a member of a people or tribe who moves from place to place with no permanent abode. This collection is just that, clothes with a wandering spirit that will take you from the cobblestoned streets of Provins, France to the placid riverfront of Maheshwar... and everywhere in between.
Photography: Stella Berkofsky
Styling: Mariaelena Morelli
Jewelry: Fay Andrada and Ming Yu Wang
Words: Fiorella Valdesolo
Art Direction: Sarah Kissell