In Naushad Ali’s next campaign, he features a cast of his home in Puducherry

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“The India I love doesn’t make the headlines, but I find it everywhere I go — in fields or forests, towns or villages, mountains or deserts — and in the hearts and minds of the people who give me love and affection For the better part of my life.” Many have felt an attraction to the Indian subcontinent, and British-born author Ruskin Bond’s opinion can echo many who have made India their home. Some come to live and breathe the country’s sensory overload, hoping to find peace in its chaos, while others survive their stay to be part of its noisy alley and color frenzy.

Puducherry-based fashion designer Naushad Ali’s latest collection is an ode to the people who call India home. His cast for the new Spring/Summer 2022 campaign includes Eden, Safia, Anandi, Teakay, Georgina and Satyavan – cosmopolitan souls with an Indian heart.

“This collection is very personal to me,” Ali says in an exclusive interview with Vogue India. “I am moved by the people in my life who have shared their stories with me and with whom I have had close connections. Her parents are from different countries with completely different customs and languages, but they now live in India with a strong sense of Indian culture (my own son happens to be a Swiss-French-Caribbean-Tamil mix).”

Puducherry (or ‘Pondi’ as it is affectionately known) is a Union Territory of India that was anointed a French colony in the 18th century and has since become a cultural melting pot. This is where people of all walks of life come together to live in community and settle into a slower pace of life. Textile and fashion designer Naushad Ali has also found a confluence of his Tamil roots, a deep spirituality and inspiration in every byway in this coastal town he calls his happy place. The coastal city, with its hybrid culture and spiritual practices, is a cornerstone of Ali’s ethos, as is his deft experimentation with textiles and fluid forms.

The collection itself is a homage to the perfect “mix” – a lens that only a mix of influences can bring to clothing. And so there are sheer, hand-crocheted, screen-printed florals (a first for the designer!) and polkas in cotton sateen and voiles. Hand-woven vintage stripes and checks in cotton silk and hand-embroidered details by Puducherry add a coastal city context that only its residents would know.

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