From India in Style (3): Shoes
Salvatore Ferragamo "Maharani" wedge, 1938
Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala, famous for the Patiala Necklace, and his queen Rani Yashoda Devi, were known to travel to London, to Vandyk Studios (a successful London photographer, born in Bunde, Germany), to get their portraits done. At one time, the Maharaja asked Vandyk to set up a studio at his palace in Patiala.
Indira Devi, the Maharani of Cooch Behar which was considered as one of the most westernized royal houses of the time, had a fetish for shoes. Salvatore Ferragamo, the legendary Italian shoe designer, reveals in his Autobiography about the time the Queen ordered more than a hundred pairs of shoes. She even sent him pearls and diamonds from her collection to create a special pair.
Maharani Sita Devi of Kapurthala, known as the ‘Pearl of India’ and the much fabled Maharani Gayatri Devi of Gwalior were much ahead of their time. Both the queens were trendsetters and heralded as fashion icons; with magazines like Vogue and well-known photographers like Andre Durst, Man Ray and Cecil Beaton clambering to get their time and attention.
Sita Devi of Kapurthala was also the fashion muse for the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, who was so enchanted by the Princess’s style that she once created all the gowns in her 1935 collection as saris. The queen’s favourite designer was Mainbocher – the couturier who made the wedding dress for Wallis Simpson’s marriage with Duke of Windsor. Sita Devi would often be seen in chiffon saris over which she would don fur coats designed by Mainbocher and custom-made jewellery specially made for her by Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and other notable jewellers.