More and more Indians are discovering how seductive bed linen can be
Luxury means different things to different people. While for some it manifests in a more tangible form, some would consider a good night’s sleep a great luxury. While some others would deem sleeping on fine cotton or silk sheets the epitome of luxury.
High-quality bed linen is the ultimate luxury, for it is not something meant for outer show but more for inner, discreet self indulgence. Much like wearing 400-dollar lingerie!
Traditionally, bed linen is made from pure cotton, for obvious reasons such as cotton’s ability to absorb body heat, laundry friendliness, etc. Egyptian pima cotton is considered the finest for bed linen for its suppleness and for the fact that sheets made with Egyptian cotton do not need to be of a very high count. Count is the number of threads in one square inch (warp and weft), in fact a lot many hotels tom-tom the fact that they provide 450 or 500 count bed linen! Usually that’s considered quite luxurious.
Recently the trend has also shifted towards pure linen bed sheets, which is considered more chic and also works very well in tropical climates like ours. Bed linen should ideally be white, for reasons of hygiene, (catch a reputed hotel using coloured sheets to sleep on), but, what looks very glamorous is black satin sheets. Recall some of the Bombay Dyeing ads, anyone? Self-jacquard bed linen is also a good idea, in very pastel tones though. However, what one definitely should avoid is hugely patterned sheets, florals or otherwise ... they are a real no-no.
In India luxury items are mostly being lapped by the nouveau riche who are into the more “have money will show” kind of sphere and spend mostly on the more obvious objects such as houses, cars and jewellery.... but then there are and always have been those Indians who spend on ‘discreet luxury’. Bed linen is one such item ... it’s meant just for you to know and experience.
A friend mentioned to me how her mother always only shopped for bed linen when she went abroad, unlike most of us who dive into clothing shops. Historically as well, Indian royalty and aristocracy ordered customised bed linen complete with their insignias. Brands such as Frette have long been a favourite with that small club of Indians.
In India we have had some home-grown bed linen brands who have done amazingly well such as Shyam Ahuja, who does some very high grade silk bed linen. Bed linen with chikankari made in Lucknow chikankariis extremely special even if not so popular at present.
I feel that as the luxury market in India grows, more people are realising how seductive good quality bed linen can be. A lot can happen between the sheets.
Ravi Bajaj, the New Delhi-based designer who has been part of the fashion scene since 1987, has an eponymous label synonymous with understated luxury.