Riotous hand-painted florals, orderly embroidered botanicals, and the looser, abstract patterns created by old hand-dying methods: Bailey Hunter appreciates it all. With a clear passion for India's rich tradition of textile design and production, Hunter explains, "I'm drawn to the idea of using elements from historic costume and textiles and recreating them in a modern way in the same regions, and with the same techniques of the originals."
[Images courtesy Cistanthe.]
Looking back to 18th-century Coromandel Coast chintzes, Mughal-era embroideries and Gandhi's interest in hand-spun khadi, Hunter's initiative, Cistanthe, works with women on the subcontinent to produce organic cottons and silks -- these painted and block-printed florals as well as crisper butah-strewn fabrics and solids.
[Hand-embroidered mint leaves on khadi.]
In New York, the textiles are stitched into clothes, the contemporary made-to-order pieces for which Hunter is known.
But if you're thinking you'd like to get your hands on the fair trade fabrics for a personal project -- pillows, curtains, or maybe a footstool? -- prints and solids can be bought by the meter. (They are attainably priced, too, with naturally-dyed painted cottons and silks currently ranging from $35 to $60.) Pictured directly above is an example of Cistanthe's silk tussah. A bit sheer and less smooth than the cotton, it's better suited to curtains than upholstery.
[More dreamy texture: a detail of Cistanthe's hand-spun khadi.]
[Birds among flowers on a soft ivory ground.]
BTW, textile designer Kevin O'Brien, also fascinated by the history of cross-cultural exchange, will be at The Met Friday, November 8th from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to lead a tour through the exhibition we've been talking about for weeks, Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800. Limited to 25 visitors, the tour offers a chance to see the show through another designer's eyes.