How Beautiful: Indian and Asian textiles and jewelry

On Saturday afternoon I met one of my longest-loved friends, Susan, for lunch and a matinée performance of a play. We know we're celebrating some ah, higher-number birthdays now that we choose the daytime performance.

On the way to
meet her, leaving the subway in an infrequently-explored neighbourhood, I spotted a tiny shop, Kinna Sohna, and discovered a trove of opulent textiles and ethnic jewelery. The aptly-named Kinna Sohna translates from Punjabi as "how beautiful".

Designer Sartaj Kaur has taken her patterns and sizing to Indian cooperatives, so finally clothes are sized for Western bodies, from XS to XXXL. Looking at a dazzling stack of shawls, I enjoyed them even more after learning of Sartaj's mission, to create an ethical market for these craftspeople.

In need of a lift after the play–a Greek tragedy–we headed for the boutique. I lept on several kurtas; Birthday Girl bought a hand-embroidered stole as a happy-birthday-to-me treat.

Thoughtful, knowledgeable service from Sartaj and her associate, Julie, helped us make our decisions.

Though this post may be frustratingly local, I'm unapologetic. If you haven't visited Toronto, these next four months are ideal and I'd enjoy showing you some special places, including, if you enjoy textiles, the Textile Museum of Canada.


Unknown said…
Hmmmm. Toronto is in (not short but do-able) driving distance of my US home, and it is on our list of possible short trips for the last part of the summer, so I will be visiting the Textile Museum if we make it - I probably would not have thought of this otherwise, but love textiles and am glad to know of it! Thank you!
diverchic said…
I am so glad you discovered this store, run by a Gestalt colleague, Sartaj. As an interesting aside, I wore my fabulous wedding sari to my Gestalt Institute graduation and Sartaj helped arrange it on me.

For those who haven't been to TO, this place is a paradise in the summer.
Duchesse said…
Artful: So much to do here! Textile Museum is right downtown.

diverchic: I'd love to see a photo!
mette said…
Duchesse: Thank you for replying to my comment. Somehow it made me very sad. I just have to bring this out on the open. I realize that writing my posts, not all of them only about what I have, and have bought and am about to buy, have given a very hollow impression of me to you. Maybe I do have an expensive taste. I am against throwalism. I pay for good quality, and good service is always a plus. I don´t arrange or attend big parties. It is seldom, we dine out. Traveling his minimal. I have had the chance to do so, this is my life, my only life, and I wish to finally live it the way I feel is right for me. I have noticed, that you have made some nasty remarks before, not only to me, others too. I know that you are a well educated woman, with a great amount of knowledge from just about anything. I don´t know, why my blogging, my opinions, my choices irritate you so much.
s. said…
Duchesse - I can't wait to visit this store. (Well, I can wait until this horrid weather passes... I venture outside my cool house as infrequently as possible these days). Thank you for sharing your discoveries and helping to promote our beautiful city
Duchesse said…
metscan: I regret that you have taken this remark as nasty. My intention was to make an observation, based on facts.
s. said…
I've just discovered that the store is a mere hop, skip & a jump from my house... so much the better!

And, my first-ever Eric Bompard shipment arrived today (all bought at the recent online sale) - quelle joie! Too hot to try any of it on, today: something to look forward to when the soaring temperatures start drifting downward.
Duchesse said…
s.: Will be eager to hear what you think! Like you, EB sale goodies are tucked away till fall.
Mardel said…
Sounds like a very interesting place. And good for you for promoting a local place you love. I'd love to get to Toronto someday, but it certainly won't be happening in the next few months.
Nancy K said…
It's been many years since we've been to Toronto but I remember having a wonderful time.
I bought a lot of jewelry and textiles in two visits to India. Wonderful stuff and we visited a textile museum that was amazing.
mette said…
Duchesse: Thank you for your comment. For me it was important to " clear the air". I now realize, that you have built a picture of me based on your facts/observations. I do hope that someone/somehow is able to see/read between the lines, I am posting. I wish to express some depth, not just the frosting of myself. For my part, I accept your regret as an apology and I do hope we can get back to normal asap.
Anonymous said…
How I enjoy this blog, always. Happy Birthday, Duchesse!

I went to the Textile Museum on a trip to Toronto a few years ago, and it was wonderful.

I have a Parisian friend who wears an Indian skirt of cyclamen pink silk so luminous, all I can do is stare at it and remember:
"Whenas in silks my Julia goes/ Ah, then, methinks, how sweetly flows/ the liquefaction of her clothes."
Rubiatonta said…
I loved Toronto when I was there on business, but I never had time to play. Now I'm tempted to find a bargain ticket from Boston and go explore!
Mmm, I see that is on Dupont in the Annex!

They are too small to have a website or online catalogue - I'd love to hear more about their clothing lines. There is a small jewellers and accessory shop (mostly scarves) with direct imports from Kashmir on Mont-Royal, but they don't have any fitted garments.

Love going out to the Toronto islands in the summer and having a picnic with a view on the city. I haven't been to Toronto for a few years. I was working, but did get to the Annex (I was at a conference at OISE, on Bloor), Kensington Market and Chinatown.

Rubiatonta, Toronto isn't a long flight from Boston. But we are even closer! (If only the train still ran)...
Duchesse said…
metscan: I am glad you feel relief.

At the same time, I will not withhold my opinion- even to the extent of stepping on toes. I'm not interested in cautiously polite, conformist or unfailingly safe writing- and that declaration does not necessarily or exclusively pertain to you.

My blog is not for everyone, everyone is not for me. Readers will decide for themselves. I have always appreciated your comments.

Anon: Cyclamen pink, for joy! "Upon Julia's Clothes" was posted in the subway here for awhile and always made me smile.

Rubiatonta: If so, check out the Porter Air flights into Toronto Island. Great idea! lagsatta's trying to lure you to mtl but I say, the two of you come here!

lagatta: Styling is not fitted via darts the big difference is that the cuts are made for women with busts and hips. Suggest you call, they are very service-oriented. Or hop on a train and I'll take you!
materfamilias said…
I love that you point out local treasures and look forward to someday visiting Toronto, and you, again to check some of them out for myself. You are a great ambassador for your city, and you hosted me so generously when I visited it.
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: I would so enjoy that! Perhaps your conference invitations might bring your here.
Rubiatonta said…
Oh, Lagatta, I love Montreal! I used to stay in Hotel Le Germain when I was on business -- and the local folks always made sure there was time for "cultural activities." (Read: Poutine and smoked beef sandwiches)

Still, I never really got to see much of Toronto (nor did I manage to get put up in Le Germain there, sniff) -- so I think it's on the list for this year.

And some day, when I've got the time, I'd love to ride the train across Canada with Mr. Pants.
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