Designer's Cut

Fashion Designer Payal Khandwala`s new collection “The New Order” for A/W`18

The Tuaregs are a muslim, semi nomadic tribe that have survived more than a 1000 years. Approximately 2.5 million Tuaregs inhabit the Saharan desert of Africa. Their women enjoy equal status in society, they own their homes and their animals.

They may not play an overt role in politics but their opinions are greatly valued and it is understood that many Tuareg women pull strings in decision making behind the scenes. They enjoy the same freedom as their men and are allowed as many lovers as they want, before and after marriage, as long as they abide by the strict laws of privacy that govern their society. This means the man must only arrive at the woman’s tent after dark and leave before sunrise.

Tuareg women also marry much later than other women in the area. Yet they don’t give up their freedom and will still own their tents and their animals after they marry. When Tuareg marriages end in divorce, it is often the woman that decides she has had enough.
In fact, the women are celebrated because they are single again. 

Prenuptial agreements are the norm, and after the divorce, women keep all their possessions, the tent and the domestic animals that the tribe relies on to survive. They also keep the children. Tuareg women do not traditionally cover their faces with veils, but men will conceal theirs at the start of puberty and continue to cover their faces in front of most women and elders, except their wives and girlfriends. I found this to be so intriguing, in a western world that prides itself in being ‘progressive’, the Tuaregs, whom we might consider ‘primitive’ have redefined the rules to truly empower their women, with the support of their men. It questions what we consider acceptable in the name of tradition and rewrites our idea of ‘conventional’. 

This collection is inspired by this New Order and by the strength of these women and the men that stand behind them. The Tuaregs are sometimes called the ‘Blue People’ because of the indigo pigment in the cloth of their traditional robes and turbans stains their skin dark blue.  The palette this season echoes the colours of these people and their landscape.

The most prominent colour being blue, often attributed to boys, becomes central. Strong shades of sapphire, cobalt, cerulean, indigo and black are offset by a soft amber that mimics the sands of their desert environment.  In this collection, we add suede and velvets, to our offering of handwoven silks and organzas, in shapes that marry both structure and drape. Our Tachi accessories in steel borrow from the shapes and symbols of traditional Tuareg silver jewelry, but in our signature minimal way.


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