By Lale Arikoglu. Photos: Alamy, Courtesy Good Earth, Courtesy The Sujan Rajmahal Palace Courtesy Bar Palladio.
Longtime friends Serena Dugan, co-founder of lifestyle brand Serena and Lily, and Blythe Harris, chief creative officer of jewelry and accessories line Stella and Dot, share a mutual eye for design and a hunger for travel. Which is why they decided to take, as they call it, “an inspiration trip” together to a place they both love: India.
Seeing it as an opportunity to bounce creative ideas off each other, and to see first-hand how artisans make the products that inspire them (both Dugan and Harris work with craftsman in India when designing their own collections), the pair hopped on a plane last year and embarked on a mammoth shopping and research trip that took them to unpredictable and bustling Delhi, and to Jaipur, a place they describe as “a feast for the senses.” For both designers, it was the colors, craftsmanship and traditional block-printing processes that were not only fascinating, but have since been translated into their own work. “A point of curiosity for both of us is that we design and manufacture [pieces] that are so very different [from each other], but we’re both very curious about how a product is made,” Dugan tells Traveler. “Traveling together meant we could expand our horizons and boundaries.”
Here, Dugan and Harris share some of their favorite places to shop across the two sprawling cities (with a few pit stops to make in between):
"Good Earth has exquisite collections of everything from home décor to apparel. Their items showcase fine Indian craft and artistry—from their porcelain and painted glassware, to their shawls woven with flecks of metal. They’re a true lifestyle brand, always ahead of the market and always inspiring."
"At Anokhi, a 40-year-old textile company, designs blend contemporary sensibilities with traditions, using bold colors to create block-printed clothing from caftans to palazzo pants."
"The go-to traditional Indian jeweler, Silverline has an amazing assortment of jewelry that spans contemporary to traditional pieces made of beads, enamel, filigree and more. Their rough cut diamond collection is also quite impressive. Insider tip: What’s displayed in the cases looks like the jewelry sold at many other retailers, but once the owner knows what you’re looking for he’ll bring out more unique, one-of-a-kind pieces for you to peruse."
"In the quieter, more removed Santushti Shopping Complex, every shop is amazing and very well-curated, set in the midst of a tranquil garden setting. Our favorite shop is Noorjehan for their collection of skillfully crafted woven throws, shawls, and textiles."
"Amrapali never disappoints. The family-run business is the best fine jeweler in Jaipur, with jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind pieces like rose cut diamond bangles and pavé elephant pendants—turn over the designs, and the back is even more intricate than the front. Each piece is like a work of art: Serena feels obligated to buy a piece on every trip back to India. Take note, prices are fair but slightly negotiable so ask for a least a ten percent discount before purchasing."
"Known for its rich colors and delicate, hand-printed patterns, RATAN Textiles is a favorite destination for traditional Indian textiles with contemporary designs."
"The SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace is one of the oldest and most treasured palaces in the heart of Rajasthan’s bustling capital. It’s an enclosed oasis with secluded gardens and meticulously designed interiors by Adil Ahmad, the former Creative Director for Good Earth, and a must-visit destination for inspiration. Totally chic—and very modern."
"The Rambagh Palace (Taj), known as the Jewel of Jaipur, was formerly the home of the Jaipur Royal family and is a great place to experience traditional Indian culture—and to sip a little champagne with an occasional peacock sighting."
"Located within a restored garden in a historic palace, Bar Palladio serves classic, Italian cuisine and is a great place to unwind after a long day of shopping—it was also the perfect spot for Serena’s birthday celebration."
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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