You are what you wear. While my specialty and training is in jewellery, I don’t think it’s possible to love jewellery without loving fashion too. It’s all about adornment and wherever I have travelled I have been inspired by local fashions. Maybe except for the neo-gypsies of Macedonia who prefer Adidas tracksuits to the old spangled skirts! Whether its nomadic dresses found on the Pakistani frontier or Mexican village dresses, if it catches my eye and looks good when I try it on, then it joins my collection. Here are some of my finds that are for sale for the first time in Kaspia’s Caravan.
Kuchi Wedding Dresses
Let’s give you the most spectacular fashions in our shop first. Because it’s a nice day for a white wedding, er, I mean, nice day for a crazy-psychedelic-gold-glitter-spangled wedding! Afghan style. Makes our wedding fashions look just a little dull, don’t you think? Gone are your preconceptions of conservative Afghans! This collection of Kuchi wedding dresses we have had in our house for over a decade which we first uncovered in the Peshawar bazaar, some in 2001 and some around 2007. The Kuchi are mainly nomadic peoples, although other clans also wear equally colorful robes for weddings. I remember seeing many a flash of sequins in the headlights passing through Afghan refugee camps south of Peshawar back in 2001. These dresses, each unique, has the finest beadwork and embroidery with silvery thread. There are medallions individually made and attached and there are sequins and bright vintage fabrics, all woven into these collectible pieces of amazing character and beauty. Kuchi wedding dresses I think look most stunning on the wall, hung as we have done. Or, perhaps, you could just ditch the whites and get married in one of these! Prices range from $300 to $700.
Sindhi Wedding Dresses
We have just a couple of these amazing dresses left in our collection. Both are from the Sindh area of Southern Pakistan and both are made from vintage and some antique fabrics, such as old trade fabrics. Many are embroidered with tiny mirrors. You will see similar work on dresses worn by tribal women who roam the desert in Gujarat, India. This is because the Rann of Kutch is divided by the India / Pakistan border. The people of Sindh also produce amazing textiles, like the rali blankets and throws we have, many in luminous patchworks. What I love about the Sindhi dresses are that they are not just worn for weddings, but equally for fetching water from the well or milking the buffalo! And people accuse me of over-dressing…. Prices range from $600 – $700
Guatemalan Embroidered Tops
Around Lake Atitlan in central Guatemala are small villages and each has it’s own unique customs and style of dress. A few months ago we spent many days crossing the lake in public boats visiting each village to check out the unique embroidered tops the women wear. In some villages they fancied fabulous hand-embroidered birds around the neckline, others preferred a string of rainbow flowers. These tops look truly amazing on, either with a belt or worn as is, which is how I prefer them, much like a poncho. We brought back just eight of them, each carefully selected by me on the banks of Lake Atitlan. These are no doubt the only eight tops like this in Australia. So they won’t last long. I suggest you come down as soon as you can and take your pick of the best one to wow people with this summer. Prices range from $120 – $250
Shawls are worn by just about every culture worldwide. In much of Central Asia shawls are worn by both men and women. In India, Pakistan & Afghanistan shawls and blankets are the equivalent of jackets and coats for many men, keeping them snug in vicious winters. For the mountains, all you need is a warm shawl and you’ll survive, inshallah! From many trips to India and Pakistan we have a selection of yummy cotton and wool shawls and blankets. Most recently, in Guatemala, we picked up some beautiful green, pink and blue hand woven shawls we saw the women making on town verandahs, the loom held between their knees. Their use of tassels and silver and gold thread woven into the mix tempted us to bring some home. Kaspia’s Caravan has a wide selection of amazing shawls from around the world. Prices range from $25 – $55
Love my husband in one of these. He looks dangerous. These pure wool hats are the traditional winter hat of Afghans, at least those who want to leave their turbans at home for the day. They are super warm and comfy, contrary to what it looks like and what Hollywood does in ‘orientalist’ films, the edges of the Pakol hats are not rolled down. I have included a picture here of how they should be worn. While not many women in Afghanistan or Pakistan wear these hats, they do look equally amazing on ladies. Sydney female fashionistas have been the best customers of the Pakol hat since we opened. We’ve got a few snow white Pakols which look grand, almost regal, like a soft crown. And if you’re heading for the hills, remember to ‘pack a Pakol’! Colours brown & white $25