Kashmir Moon in New York City
Photos in this article demonstrate the jewel-like embroidery and weaving that originate in Kashmir (also known as "Cashmere," a northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent and is sold in New York - NYC.
>> I wear black. A lot of black. It's not because I think that I look great in this color (or, "non-color"). Or that I believe it truly represents the upbeat, outgoing person that I believe myself to be (on most days).
It's mainly because black is easy. Black matches everything. Black is slimming. Black is quick – this is helpful, as my nine-month-old has little patience for the "What Should Mommy Wear Today?" game.
I took a hiatus from black during my pregnancy. Round and rosy moms-to-be just don't look right in somber tones. I was proud of my body and showed it off - in greens, oranges, pinks, and other colors that my closet has never seen. And I felt better in these hues: radiant, younger, happier.
Almost a year post partum I find myself close to pre-pregnancy size, and long for bright and versatile clothing to match my mommy-hood glow and on-the-go life. Following a hot shopping tip (and a rare excursion without my daughter), I found Kashmir Moon.
In midtown, on the 8th floor of an anonymous-looking office building, is a treasure tucked around the corner from an architect's office. The location, however, is the only understated thing about Kashmir Moon.
Upon entry, you are immediately transported from the slate skyscrapers of New York City to the deliciously vibrant world of Kashmir, India. Kashmir Moon, more gallery than retail shop, is a near sensory overload of rich texture, decadent fabric, illuminating color, and exquisite design.
The walls, racks, and shelves teem with carpets, tapestries, artwork, coats, pillow covers, bedspreads, and scarves in shades as exotic as magenta and mandarin. The air is filled with the sound of Bollywood tunes and the aroma of ground coffee, which serves to heighten the otherworldliness of the surroundings.
The jewels of Kashmir Moon's crown are the one-of-a-kind, exquisitely detailed, hand-knotted, Kashmir-silk-embroidered carpets (see a close-up of knotting in the last photo). Six hundred to nine hundred knots per square inch and hand-crafted, these rugs are a rare find. Jeweled carpets, embellished with hundreds of semi-precious stones, can also be used as wall hangings.
With wardrobe expansion never far from my mind, I dismiss the fleeting thought that I could wrap myself in wall hangings and rugs and start the next "pashmina-type" craze. I leave the furnishings behind and am immediately drawn to the exquisite coats.
In varying lengths and patterns, all of Kashmir Moon's coats are resplendent in jewel tones and rich textures, combining the smooth and elegant look of silk with the warmth and practicality of wool linings. The styles are ornate but not busy, the designs both modern and authentically exotic. Mandarin collars flatter every face and add a dramatic neckline.
More casual "jacket" types that can be worn indoors are hip-length, while knee-length coats as well as floor-length "maxi-coat" styles are available for the more regal among us. Price depends largely on the amount of embroidery, generally bold and beautiful paisley or floral designs.
I am drawn to the jacket style. The coat's luxurious fabric and deconstructed lines manage to make me look taller and slimmer, while covering those last pregnancy pounds. It should be noted that all coats come in size "medium," with a few that are more form-fitting.
These coats can be combined with everything from work pants, to jeans, to a sexy dress. You may want to buy more than one, for yourself or as gifts, as these coats can flatter any woman at any age who seeks an effortless way to look classy without trying hard.
The silk-spun shawls and scarves are more familiar - due to the aforementioned popularity of the pashmina - but are nonetheless magnificent.
More unusual are the Jamawar shawls: hand-spun, dyed, and embroidered. Wear these one-of-a-kind pieces for a lighter way to accent an outfit for the boardroom, the classroom, or, dare I say, the bedroom. (I can't help but be pleased that both the scarves and the coats can easily accent any all-black outfit.)
The owners of Kashmir Moon are Mary and Shujat Hussain. Theirs is a unique love story, borne of independent interests and work in hand-embroidered coats (hers) and carpets from India (his).
"I guess I love all things Indian," Mary jokes, as she tells the story of combining their expertise to open the store in 2004. The labor of love which created and transcends Kashmir Moon is apparent in every hand-chosen piece, and the success of this intimate effect may explain their lack of advertising, save the Internet, and reliance on word-of-mouth buzz.
Prices vary from $99 to $700 for coats, $500 to $10,000 for scarves, and $100 to $20,000 for carpets. It is well worth the small extravagance for a versatile, opulent effect impossible to find at mass-market retail stores for anything less.
Kashmir Moon does offer wholesale prices to retailers and purchasers of five or more pieces, and sells to select high-end department stores and boutiques. There is also a terrific "50% off rack."
Similar items can be found with much higher prices at New York's Fifth Avenue shops, and without the fantastic experience of visiting Kashmir Moon's gallery. So, add a little color back into your life, like me, or some flavor to your furnishings, or just enjoy an Indian excursion at one of New York's best-kept secrets. Kashmir Moon is worth the trip.
Kashmir Moon is located at 1150 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue). Store hours are Monday to Friday, 11:00 to 5:00, and Saturday and Sunday by appointment. Retailers should make an appointment to discuss wholesale merchandise.
Article and photos by Amy Kotulski. First published on 7/4/2006. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.