First, I heard a crisp whoosh of wind slicing the air, leaving me in goosebumps. Then, another. My eyes darted from the country road where I walked with my husband in time to catch them circling over us—a glorious pair of bald eagles.
In the 18th century, 100,000 nesting bald eagles were thought to thrive in this country, but the number dropped, by 1963, to 417. Every day, a wonder may die.
In Aurangabad, India, celebrated himroo weaving, for generations the choice of royals and Bollywood stars, employed 2,500 looms and a city of men renowned for their weaving. . In 2018, only two dusty, neglected looms of rotting wood remained—the work having gone to industrialized factories in England. But Arushi Chowdhury Khanna came to this city in search of this legendary cloth, found the two remaining weavers who knew its complex technique, and invited them to teach a school of young women how to carry on this beauty.
Lke the stirring rush of eagles wings—eagles who with our care have rebounded from 417 pairs to 316,700 individual raptors—you can now hear, in the streets of Aurangabad, the thrum of six looms operated by eight women weaving storied elegance, and that number is growing. And like the eagle, who in this country lives on as an emblem of our national identity, so too the himrootradition lives on a crowning language of place and pride.
Working with Arushi to dust off those neglected looms, provide new ones, offer training for young women as well as design collaboration, thus reviving a whole species of beauty with young women at the creative center—this is one of those Ibu efforts in which I take great joy.
For our celebratory tenth year, we dreamed of a kimono that would sing with the many himroo designs revived in this difficult process, pieced in harmony and lined with a rich lavender silk. The remnants are rare, and so are the kimonos we offer—only four will roam this earth.
I call this the pièce de résistance. The masterpiece, the showpiece, the opus, the tour de force. Because beauty may die every day. So when it finds a champion like Arushi and grows again into pride and fans hope among women—well, then—I want to wear that wonder. I want to wing my way down the street like a rare bald eagle, reversing extinction. I want to wear the whoosh, this feathery story of hope.
All the Best,