Maharaja's daughter sent down catwalk in Paris

THOMAS ADAMSON AP Fashion Writer Published:

PARIS (AP) -- India-- home to over a billion people and one of the most colorful cultures in the world -- is a limitless creative touchstone for designers.

So it's surprising that Mumbai-born Manish Arora -- perhaps the subcontinent's most famous designer -- has not delved into its rich fashion encyclopedia before.

That is until now.

Arora presented a spicy and bohemian homage to his homeland Thursday for spring-summer 2013 at Paris Fashion Week.

But why now?

"Suddenly it struck me I have never had Indian silhouettes," said Arora, dressed in a flamboyant gold top. "Luckily, this year I was very attracted toward jewelry: Is there a better place to draw inspiration?"

Arora took us by the bejeweled hand down a goldmine of revamped traditional Indian dress. Angrakha dresses with orange patterns were set of boldly with a shiny chainmail pant.

His kurtas, or collarless tunics, felt fresh and youthful with geometric prints of tigers, panthers and antelope -- apparently from Rajasthan.

However, the show was really about the jewelry, as sublime ornamentation on heads and hands reigned in some of the collection's more garish looks.

At one point there were gasps as the Maharaja's daughter came down the catwalk: Resplendent in a standout gold face-band that circled the bottom of the eyes.

It was one of the most thoughtful collections Arora has done.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP