A Taste of Asian Fashion

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by Alyssa Morrow

The start of the semester marks the beginning of the few but extravagant fashion exhibits offered at the Ruth Davis Design Gallery. The gallery opened its doors this past Sunday to tactful critics of South Asian clothing, culture and context. The gallery stimulates all the senses with Asian culture, including soothing ethnic music, a taste of Asia and enchanting lighting to illuminate the textiles.

One of the most notable characteristics of the textiles and clothing in this exhibit are the vibrant, contrasting colors of each piece. The specific colors of Indian clothes originate from their symbolic meaning relating to Hindu castes. Although these color combinations are drawn from the ancient eye, the style of the garments still resonates in Indian culture today.


This first ensemble consists of a long, silk blouse called a kanchli and a gathered skirt called a ghara. These pieces include small mirrors, a common design element found in Indian fashion. Both pieces were hand embroidered and fabricated during the 20th century.


Despite its fabrication in the 1950’s, this gorgeous, brightly colored shawl could easily be seen draped over any fashionista’s shoulders this fall. The color and subtle flower embroidery exudes a modern and fresh feel, creating a sense of timelessness in this antiquated fabric.


Beyond clothing, the exhibit features many other embellished items and jewelry, one of which is this women’s beaded headdress. The heavy piece is made entirely of natural materials, including turquoise, stones and pearls.


Last but not least is the exhibit’s vast and memorable display of authentic, unique jewelry. These accessories are made of the highest quality silver, gold and rare beads-the 1900s version of “bling.”



Want to see more? Check out “Clothing, Culture, Context in South Asia: Selections from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection” for yourself from September 8th to October 20th in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery in Nancy Nicholas Hall (SoHE), located at 1300 Linden Drive.

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