“Shocking pink is the navy blue of India,” Diana Vreeland famously declared. Rajasthan is a place of vibrant color. The desert may be monochrome, but the sky is usually a cloudless blue, the peacock is a common native bird, and the people delight in crimson, emerald and gold. For Rajput and Mughal rulers, color and display were an expression of power. In Jaipur and Jodhpur, the skills and crafts of the 16th century are now in global demand.
My guide took me to Maharani Textiles & Handicrafts, an apparently unremarkable store in the Jodhpur bazaar a 10-minute walk from the RAAS hotel. “We have around 2,000 employees,” owner Mukesh Jain told me, “and we manufacture for many of the top international designers. In New York, we work for Donna Karan. And in Paris, for Hermès. Here, you can buy this for $200,” he continued, flinging open an exquisite cashmere shawl. “But on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, they charge 7,000 euros.”
In Jaipur, you can enjoy a very different kind of shopping experience at Hot Pink, an exceptionally elegant boutique in the Hotel Narain Niwas Palace that was co-founded by French designer Marie-Hélène de Taillac. The shop contains an eclectic mix of textiles and artifacts from all over India.