The Jaipuri Flamingo

Michael Karlo Lim

The twenty-four hour, made-to-measure suit is something of a legend to me given that it is practically a myth on the procrastiduction lines of the Philippines. Stories picked up of bang-for-buck customized items from alley shops done on the fly during jaunts across Asia fueled this aching desire. Sartorially-savvy India gave one who thoroughly identifies with suiting to a fault much hope at fulfilling his fashion fantasy. Google shows no specific results for the Hindu deity of textiles but I assumed there is one given the millions believed to be celebrated. I may also have found its temple in Jaipur: Heritage Textiles & Handicrafts.

Our tour driver and fast bosom-buddy, Vijendra, had us cased within the first few days of our trip and already had a very good grasp of what we wanted to experience by the time we got to the second city segment of our tour. Asked for a local tailor, he swung us to a rather nondescript alley where this decades old establishment holds fort. Warm smiles all around welcomed us out front where a short introduction to the industry preceded a hand block-printing demo.

Hand-block Printed Textiles
Heritage Textiles

Natural vegetable dyes were carefully pressed on sample cotton fabric using hand-carved wooden blocks. An elephant and rider pattern took shape and the initial colors morphed into the beautiful final after a saltwater wash. The show-and-tell continued on with a quick detour into their basement production area before we were brought back up and into a veritable hall of wonders.

Shelves upon shelves of assortments of fabrics greeted our eyes darting left and right not knowing where to begin. We lost no time and began browsing through the displays, the attendants wasting none on their end gleefully unfurling bolts of fabric and dressing us in their sample items. Interruption came only with the customary offer of drinks. We took chai masalas, of course. With sugar and milk. When in Rome, you know?

Heritage Textiles & Handicrafts is located at 10 Gangapole Road, Jorawar Singh Gate, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001, India
Kat in an everyday sari

The PussyKat was dead set on an Amy Song robe and has already selected silk and gold trim for hers while I was still overwhelmed with the choices of fabric, color and cut for a suit. The shop had a steady stream of tourists in and out to check out the wares or to pick up orders. An Austrian client who had my trust at talk of sauerkraut and schnitzels offered a prod with the assurance of the quality of the craftsmanship from his items. The staff then went Lilliputian on Gulliver with tape measures.

The Indian Peacock is a brightly colored bird native to South Asia. The male, hence, peacock, is best identified with its long train of feathers which are raised into a fan display during courtship. It is celebrated in Indian mythology and enjoys the status of national bird of India. Peacockery is pointless where that bird has the home court advantage. So, I flamingoed.

Sample Display

The bold choice of pink was lauded by the staff, it being an auspicious color in Indian culture. Jaipur, too, was the Pink City, after all. Linen was the obvious option given the humid climate back home. I leafed through a catalog and selected a classically stylish two-button single breasted slim-fitted jacket with notched lapels, jetted pockets and a single vent. The full lining was in the same shade of pink in silk. The sleeves were to end in non-functional kissing buttons. The pants were measured tight on the waist in a slim cut slightly tapering into the ankles. Trim and tall was the goal as the Chinese Growth Balls of yore only managed to grow me acne.

We returned the next day a few hours too early for the twenty-four time frame and were graciously referred to the nearby Grand Peacock restaurant for lunch to while away the time. We may have enjoyed the great meal too much too much to fit ever so slightly almost too snug for my pants but the rest of it fit quite perfectly. No tailored jacket has fit me to a tee with considerations for the rushed work. The PussyKat purred happily in her new silk robe to the staff’s adulation for the “Maharani”.

We left with smiles ear-to-ear plus their other RTWs, fabrics and a party sari for LaEmmanuela in hand. My only and biggest regret now is having had only one suit done.

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