Community living
VOGUE India|October 2021
In Puducherry, textile and fashion designer Naushad Ali has found a confluence of his Tamil roots, a deep spirituality, and inspiration in every bylane. He tells Priyanka Khanna why the coastal town is his happy place
Priyanka Khanna

In his recent campaign, shot by photographer Ashish Shah, textile and fashion design-er Naushad Ali focused on showcasing the real ‘Pondi’ (as the Indian union territory with French influences is often called) as he knows it. “Pondicherry is so much more than yellow walls, French food and beaches,” he says with a laugh. “We showed Sri Aurobindo library, the Laboratoires Senteurs, the green belt of Auroville, the Marbling House, the ashram kitchen, the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) and the French Institute. Most of these are not on the tourist radar, but they are an experience.”

It’s the coastal town with its hybrid culture and its spiritual practices that is as much a cornerstone of Ali’s ethos as are his deft experiments with textiles and fluid shapes. Last autumn, he referenced Puducherry through a nostalgic lens where, via archival photos, he translated the sartorial elegance that dotted the town in the 1950s and 1960s.

His studio is based in Auroville, a community that prides itself on its eco-conscious approach, and which continuously motivates Ali. He takes a threepronged approach to sustainability—social, ecological and economic. With his designs, he’s working towards a zero-waste practice and also addressing the perception of fashion consumption.

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