I have a friend, one of those over-acheivers who used to be a lawyer and then decided to do something different. As if going through law school, taking the Bar and going on to practice wasn't enough, she decided to have a beautiful family and then head up the PTO and become a seamstress. Anyway, she did something fun this week - she took an Indian sari and turned it into her daughter's window treatments; luminous London shades that sparkle and float and add so much character to the room that you don't even notice any of the other pieces in there.
What I love about this is twofold. First, I love that she repurposed something that she would never have used otherwise (as talented as she is, I don't think that she could ever pull off wearing a sari unless it was as her Halloween costume). Second, I love that she introduced a sense of style and culture to a first grader. Just by putting the sari in her window, it opens up the story of India and the tales of the Maharaja.
Years ago, when my life was a little less full of kids, my husband and I spent three weeks travelling through Rajastan and the northern circut of the Thar desert. Words cannot describe India. You have to go to really appreciate it. It's such a vivid adventure filled with striking contrasts throughout the landscape. The desert is arid and dry, yet the people are colorful and warm. The cities are CRAZY and CROWDED, yet they're respectful of their history and mindful of their culture. India was a country of more than 600 states at one time, and each of those states had their own king, and each of those kings had their own palace, and own vacation palace, and own hunting lodge, and own protective fort, and so on and so forth. And because of all of this royalty, there are a lot of incredible things to see - palaces have been turned into hotels, hunting lodges have been converted into tiger reserves, and forts have been left for you to roam free among the ruins in. India is saturated with inspiration; the mugal arches, the fretwork-covered windows blocking hidden palace rooms, the unbelievably vibrant colors and layers-upon-layers of patterning, the rugs, the miniature style paintings, the bedazzled accessories.... It's all amazing.
There are a lot of Indian-inspired textiles out on the market these days, but my two favorites right now are the India Collection by Mally Skok (http://www.mallyskokdesign.com/fabrics/india_collection.html) and the Victoria Collection by Ferran (http://www.ferranstore.com/victoria%20collection.htm). So, if you don't have a sari to recreate, take a look at these and think about a pillow. We all know how much I love pillows...