It all started at the car boot sale. I spotted the jacket hanging on the side of a van. Within moments of slipping it on, I was surrounded by a small group telling me I HAD to buy it and that it looked AMAZING with my cut-off 501s. Since then, I’ve worn it fairly constantly and, on almost every occasion, people have come up to me to talk about it.
It got me thinking: what is it about this jacket that attracts people? It is certainly colourful and unusual but the pattern of flowers and branches is what draws people to it. The tree of life is a traditional design that continues to be popular today. Most world religions feature a tree somehow: symbolizing life or knowledge; or representing the connection between humans, heaven and the underworld. Some trees have gained specific associations – the world ash in Scandinavian myth, the Celtic oak or the Greek laurel. There is a wonderful article from the Times of India on this by textile historian, Jasleen Dhamija.
Local consensus seems to be that my car boot sale trophy is an example of Kashmiri embroidery. On a visit to Delhi a few years ago, I saw similar designs of curlicued plants and flowers in Mughal design and architecture. It is beautiful as an object in its own right but I’ve also been having a lot of fun pairing the jacket up with different combinations. I started out playing safe with khaki or black trousers and jeans. Then, inspired by British Vogue’s star stylist, Lucinda Chambers in this September’s issue, I tried it with brocades and then a vintage Lanvin psychedelic print top. When temperatures cool, I’m planning to try it with some Isabel Marant leathers or with a pair of tan suede over-the-knee boots. The connections could be endless but probably conversational.