"Rajasthan had always been on my mind." Interview on our India shoot with LoQ cofounder Keren Longkumer.
1. Why did you choose to shoot this specific collection in India? What does it mean to you to shoot there?
Rajasthan had always been on my mind. I think it's a great way to introduce India to the outside world. The buildings are of subtle colors but still have so much history. I loved the fact that each city is of a different color - Jaipur is pink, Jaisalmer is yellow and Jodhpur is blue. So when we decided to do a photoshoot in India it was easy to pick Rajasthan.
2. You design all of your collections out of India. How does place affect design for you? Can you list some aspects (visual or otherwise) which inspire you there?
I like to design when I’m cool and collected. I’m mentally at peace when I design from home. Everyday colors like the colors at the Phool Mandi (flower market), the colorful designs on trucks, or the combinations worn by women in saris/suits inspire me.
3. Were there other notable artistic influences behind the aesthetic of this specific collection?
I was particularly inspired by 17th century Mughal art colors. The paintings are colorful yet light, and very detailed.
4. What were some of the challenges you came across for this shoot?
Before the actual shoot, I went a few months in advance to scout locations. I had this vision to incorporate local Rajasthani women because I wanted to highlight them. I drove 300 kilometers each day from location to location, and in between stopped at villages to meet the women. The challenges were: The villages in Rajasthan are scattered because each family owns large parcels of land and navigation can be tricky, the local dialect was something to navigate too, as it was different from the dialect I grew up with.
5. And what were the unexpected and positive surprises?
Yes! I was surprised by how much fun these women had. It was emotional. Just imagine, their routine consists of waking up early, cooking breakfast for the family, going to the fields to nurture their crops, and then back in the evening to cook dinner for the family; to share the new experience of a photoshoot with them, I was nervous. They were so patient, kind and loving. They even offered us to join them for lunch after the photoshoot.
6. Can you tell us a bit about everyone in the photos and the story of your meeting?
I drove with my team to this village I had fallen in love with. I felt very inspired by the place and had saved the location, dreaming to shoot there. We left our hotel at 2 am to catch the morning light and also to make sure we met the local women before they set out to the fields. We got a little lost and got to the village by 6:30 am. It was important to me to build a sense of trust between myself and the women before setting out to take these photos. We sat and had chai for a long time, building a rapport.
7. Are there any contemporary designers in India you are especially drawn to currently and would like to share?
My friends at Untitled are doing a wonderful job of representing old Indian embroidery techniques on modern silhouettes. I’m always in awe of their creations.