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Cities that have inspired designers around the world

Coco Chanel at her home in Paris

Cities are not just concrete jungles; they are living, breathing entities that inspire and shape the souls of artists. Throughout the history of fashion, certain cities have served as catalysts for the creative genius of renowned fashion designers, leaving an everlasting imprint on their works. These cities, with their distinctive atmospheres, rich cultural tapestries, and architectural wonders, have ignited the imaginations of designers, shaping their aesthetics and defining their signature styles. From the grandeur of Paris to the vibrant streets of Marrakech, the pulsating energy of New York to the ancient traditions of Kolkata, these cities have provided the backdrop and inspiration for fashion’s most iconic visionaries.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee and his love for Calcutta

“The glamour of Calcutta. I can’t put a finger on it… it’s almost sexual and slightly dark. It comes from the very private chambers of the mind,” says fashion maestro Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who carries a bit of his hometown with him wherever he goes. Its layered culture is  infused in his designs in more ways than one. Be it in the colonial influence of his colour palette or the Bengal tiger that emerges with much aplomb across his belts, bags and jewels. Drawing inspiration from Kolkata’s colonial architecture and aristocratic heritage, his creations often feature regal silhouettes, intricate embellishments, and a sense of grandeur. By fusing classic elements with modern sensibilities, Sabyasachi brings forth a unique style that he calls ‘Calcutta Gatsby’.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Saree inspired by the glamour of Calcutta

The Royal Bengal Tiger motif used in jewellery

Yves Saint Laurent’s Marrakech

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent museum in Marrakech

Jardin Majorelle a garden in Marrakech that was bought and preserved by Saint Laurent

When Yves Saint Laurent first travelled to Marrakech in 1966 with his partner, they were met by an entire week of rain. But the day the sun came out, they fell in love with the city and immediately bought a house there. It became a creative sanctuary for him, where he would sketch designs for his upcoming collections. Marrakech’s vibrant and bustling medinas, bustling souks and breath-taking landscapes infused Yves Saint Laurent’s designs with an explosion of colour. Inspired by the kaleidoscope of hues found within the city’s labyrinthine streets, his collections showcased vivid shades of saffron, terracotta, cobalt blue and vibrant reds. Saint Laurent’s love for the city and its impact on his work and life has been so deep that there is a museum in Marrakech dedicated to him which is also located on a street named after him.

England’s impact on Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren

Equestrian clothing inspired by the English sport of Polo

Collection inspired by early 1900’s British style

Renowned American fashion designer Ralph Lauren has long been captivated by the timeless elegance and rich heritage of England. From the verdant countryside to the regal traditions of the British monarchy, England has served as a constant source of inspiration for Ralph Lauren’s iconic designs. England’s long-standing equestrian heritage, with its prestigious horse races and country pursuits, has served as a muse for the designer. Classic riding attire, tailored blazers, jodhpurs, and riding boots find their way into his collections, paying homage to the timeless elegance and grace of the equestrian world.

Coco Chanel and Paris

Coco Chanel

Chanel flagship store in Paris at 31 Rue Cambon

Aerial image of Place Vendome that inspired the shape of Chanel No. 5 bottle

Gabrielle Chanel is one of the most significant tastemakers who has had a lasting impact on the world of design. One of the most influential sources of creativity for Chanel and what helped shape her vision of the modern woman, was the city of Paris itself. Coco Chanel’s Parisian life revolved around a few square kilometers in the heart of the city, where Paris’ timeless appeal lies. Whether it’s Rue Cambon, the spiritual home of Chanel, where her apartment and salon are or The Ritz hotel, where she chose to permanently live and from where she gazed out of the windows onto Place Vendôme, whose octagonal shape may well have inspired her design for the classic No. 5 bottle.

Anita Dongre’s ode to Jaipur

Anita Dongre

Lehenga featuring gotapatti work

F/W ’19 collection ‘Jaipur Love’ featuring block prints inspired by the city

The couturier has a personal connection with Jaipur, the city where she grew up, and which retains its timelessness even in the face of modernity. In her own words, it is the city of Jaipur that has influenced her aesthetic and understanding of craft and artisanship. Exquisite brocades and gotapatti hand embroidery take from the city’s rich heritage, and the motifs and designs draw from the indulgent architecture. This idea of Rajasthan as the eternal muse has had an overarching influence across all her labels, including jewellery which draws extensively from the arches and geometric shapes inspired by the architecture of the city, and tulips and wildflowers from Mughal gardens.