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Left Bethany Halbreich’s Spanish inspired design signals a globally minded culture. Below The Princesse K range blends Indian inspiration with French Riviera chic.

The romance of travel

An American designer gets inspired by multiple cultures from her global travels, a Kiwi captures the romance of travelling, an Indian designer blends her heritage with her time on the Riviera
main photograph by Kate Szatmari

BETHANY HALBREICH says she has been reading Lucire for as long as she can remember, which on the face sounds like an unlikely claim, till one reads her bio. Halbreich is 20, and considering Lucire has now been around for 12 years, we now finally face the possibility there are fashionistas out there who really have read us for much of their lifetimes. And her biography is remarkable: she has travelled to 35 countries in her lifetime, fought cancer in her youth, and now creates fashion that takes inspiration from some of the cultures she has encountered.

The idea about seeking inspiration from different cultures has arguably been around for as long as fashion itself—after exhausting one’s immediate surroundings, designers turn to the next place for a dose of exoticism. But it’s the 21st century that has seen the idea of altermodernism, as humankind reaches a sort of global awareness. It’s now almost conceivable, through technology, to touch any other part of the planet, and to get inspired from afar. Rather than take inspiration from only one culture, it’s possible to be inspired by dozens.

Halbreich has arguably done this with her gowns, with Spanish, Moroccan, Indian, and Chinese inspirations, among others; and one should bear in mind that at 20, this sort of repurposing from other cultures is perfectly natural and normal. And that we should expect to see a lot more of this in years to come, as today’s teens become tomorrow’s established designers. Halbreich has what appears to be a mixture of youthful exuberance and a drive that can only come from knowing how fragile life can be, so that sets her apart; but watch the industry for a few more years, and these globally inspired designers may emerge en masse.

The flip side—designers in countries which serve as inspiration reaching the occident—has been happening for years. Karishma Shahani is the latest in this line: hailing from India, and a globetrotter herself (she studied international brand management in Monaco), her Princesse K label (telephone 91 989 213-5331) has a range of totes and hobos that have an international style.

The current collection, Indian Monsoon, has bright turquoise, pink and melon shades, and has used, according to Shahani, ‘Indian fabrics and elements such as tie and dye, ikkat, bandhini, khaadi.’ Unsurprisingly, Shahani has the Riviera in mind with her range.

Anna Killick thinks similarly: her Annie Blackberry jewellery, hailing from New Zealand, is designed with an international market in mind. Maintaining a blog that showcases her designs, Killick takes the idea of travel that all global voyagers possess at their heart. Jewellery with motifs of aircraft and nautical steering wheels, as well as birds in flight, are part of the Annie Blackberry designs for the spring 2009–summer 2010 season.

The message for the fourth quarter of 2009 is travel—whether one romanticizes and dreams about it, or flies off to exotic climes. And in fashion, accessories and jewellery, it seems to be present. •


Above Industrial motifs from Annie Blackberry.


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