Rabari Kediya

House of Wandering Silk has just released two styles of beautifully handcrafted Rabari-style kediya, and in the process inspired a closer look at this very elegant and increasingly visible garment.

The Rabari are tribal pastoralists, traditionally nomadic but now concentrated in the Kutch region of Gujarat and across northwest India. Beyond the deceptive simplicity of their herders' characteristic kediya — a lightweight cotton, gathered wrap overshirt or jacket — the Rabari are a stylish bunch, with a bewildering array of varied and intricate jewellery and embroidered garments; if you've ever heard tell of the richness of Kutch embroidery, it's the Rabari's doing.

In traditional usage, the kediya (or kedia) can range from a plain work garment — reminiscent of traditional European linen undergarments or smocks — to part of a highly ornate wedding outfit, heavily embroidered and made from costly materials. Its flattering silhouette, wearable construction and traditional origins mean it is increasingly entering into mainstream fashion, with brands such as Dosa refining the most basic form into a luxury piece while others embellish or extend the shape into something almost resembling a frock coat. While each traditional and modern permutation is striking in its own way, I find the herder's plain cotton style the most beautiful, accented with only a few pieces of silver jewellery — and a lot of dust.

Ukrainian folk fashion recast

While idling through Pinterest my eye was caught by a woman on a bare catwalk, beautifully decked out as if on her way to a village festival. It turned out to have been taken at Ukrainian Fashion Week in March this year, in a collaboration between local fashion designers and the Ivan Honchar Museum (National Centre of Folk Culture) in Kiev. The aim was to present traditional folk costume in a setting normally reserved for the antithesis of tradition, and so to cast fresh light on its beauty and relevance. 

Ivan Honchar's website states that up to 20 costumes were displayed, all from different regions of the Ukraine and all authentic folk costume, save for some new wreaths, mended hems and copied aprons. To read some dubious Google translating on the subject and see more images, click here and here

The gorgeous embellishments on all the costumes put me in mind of a woman whose work I'd seen via the always fascinating website of the International Folk Art Alliance. Her name is Anna Nepyivoda and she has been making pysanka, or batik-painted Easter eggs, for 30 years, following on from the women in her family, of the highland Hutsul culture. Aside from making these exquisite traditional gifts, Anna is on a mission to bring Ukrainian folk costume back into the everyday life of her culture and her work now includes embroidery, textiles and leatherwork. Her pysanka and Hutsul embroidery work are available to purchase via the International Folk Art Market Online shop.

Ivan Honchar images by Bohdan Poshyvaylo, Alex Pliska and Alexander Bezobchuk; IFAA images via their website