For Ace & Jig designers Jenna Wilson (left) and Cary Vaughan (right) , every collection is informed by a shared passion for textiles. And while they’re inspired by global traditions as far-ranging as Africa and Japan, India is at the center of their love story. Since launching in Fall 2010, each Ace & Jig collection is produced by the master weavers and artisans of a family-run manufacturer, who bring Cary and Jenna’s custom-designed textiles to life. “We knew from the start that the process needed to have the right heart and soul,” explains Jenna. “The beauty and culture of India permeates everything we do. We believe in textile stories, and each of our custom fabrics has its own one to tell.”
After a recent visit to work on their Spring 2017 collection, the designers decided to visit the ancient city of Udaipur to soak up inspiration. “Our manufacturer family has been urging us to visit for years. For them, the city is a spiritual retreat,” says Jenna. Immediately after arriving, the women understood why. “Our custom yarn-dye textiles are known for their signature woven patterns, textures, and colors,” says Cary. “This city is a dreamscape for us because in Udaipur, texture, pattern, and color reign supreme.”
Below, they share highlights from the their colorful trip, where their own Spring 2016 collection pops against the charming backdrop of sun-bleached paint and ornate architecture.
We had the opportunity to travel by train through the state of Gujarat to Ahmedabad. Gujarat is Ghandi’s home state. All regions of India are so spiritual—chock-full of history and religion, and each has distinctive food, language, art, and ecosystem.
The ancient city of Udaipur is in Rajasthan. Also known as The City of Lakes, it dates back to 1553. It’s safe to say it’s one of our favorite inspirational sojourns we have ever been on.
This was taken in the narrow, candy-colored alleyways of Udaipur’s Old City. It’s a painters dream: hue on hue, layer on layer.
The tangle of pastel buildings seem to be sprouting out of one another in the most perfectly unplanned way. Monkeys literally hop from tree to tree overhead.
Our favorite way to spend the afternoon was to wander on foot through the narrow stone alleys crowded with market stalls. We found amazing hand-made leather shoes in so many colors and patterns, as well as hand-carved wooden elephants for our kids, and hand-made silver jewelry.
A beautiful portrait, which almost looks like a painting, snapped in the old city.
This was taken at Lake Palace—an outstanding example of historical architecture. It was built over a period of nearly 400 years and, despite being in a state of crumble, it’s just stunning. Though every room is different, the rich legacy of the royal era remains: pattern on pattern frescoes, mirrored walls, tiled rooms, decorative furniture, colored glass. It was actually inspiration overload in the best possible way.
At the Lake Palace, looking out over the water.
We stayed at the The Lake Palace, which sits in the middle of Lake Pichola. It was built in the 1740s, served as the summer palace for the royal dynasty, and was recently brought back to life as a hotel. The only way to reach the lake palace is by boat across Lake Pichola, and on a still clear day the reflection of the white marble palace on the lake is otherworldly!
Along the marble steps lining the lake, we encountered a group of boys jumping off the walls of the city into the lake to cool down. Such a sweet moment!
Cooling down with cocktails!
City Palace had the most stunning views looking out over the lake and Old City.
The vibrant hues of the City Palace’s walls are fading and the corners are coming undone. We love its wabi sabi imperfect, impermanent beauty.
As we work now on the textiles for Barneys for Spring 2017, the color and pattern of the City Palace are very prominently factoring into the magic ball of our collective inspiration.
There was a blue room filled with ornate blue China patterns on tiles and blue tinted glass. We could immediately see the colors and patterns from our current season at Barneys reflected in this beautiful room.
More from the City Palace.
Pattern on pattern love!
The fruit in India is amazing, and we are constantly stopping to grab some for a snack. The markets are a focal point of the community, where people socialize and shop among mounds of colorful, fragrant fruits.
Taking the boat to our hotel.
A beautiful flower sculpture at The Lake Palace. The colors are so rich!
The Lake Palace was truly a place of peace and inspiration. Absolutely everything is marbled or tiled and just immaculately executed.
Our india uniform is the same as at home: it has to be effortless, able to move and breathe, and lots of layers that take you from morning to night. Many of our pieces are also back-to-front reversible or fully reversible, which is a dream when trying to travel light!