Scarf Stories – How Yogi Joshi Gets Design Inspiration From The Himalayas

Head_0Growing up amidst the snow clad mountains of the Himalayas which inspired Kipling to write the classicJungle Book, Yogi Joshi the designer of luxury silk scarves Yogy Ramaused the picturesque memories from her home town as her muse. She recalls with a distant, wandering expression: ‘I grew up surrounded by beauty in its rawest and most natural form – farms, rolling hills covered in snow. What more inspiration could one need? Every scarf tells a story, and these stories have been expressed through my artwork which is presented on each scarf.’

What makes Yogy Rama so unique, is that each distinct scarf has been tirelessly designed by herself, which is why she only designs an exclusive eight pieces per collection. Impressively, the entire design and production process takes one month per scarf. She enthusiastically explains: ‘When I start drawing, it takes me to another world. Once the concept is envisioned, it goes onto a canvas which takes almost a month.’ As an artist, Yogi also experiences her fair share of frustrated moments: ‘I have those artistic tendencies when I think, I just want to throw it away. I’m one of those people who can start in the morning at 6am and carry on until the night – I don’t even stop to eat!’ We all have our favourite cravings to help us sustain during all-nighters and so does Yogi as she exclaims, ’I live on green tea!’

Although Yogi has been living in London for the past six years, her designs are created using an 2,500 year old ancient art technique called Madhubaani, which Yogi cites as ‘a very authentic art form, when art was created using simple shapes. ‘Madhu’ means honey and ‘baan’ means jungle or forest, meaning ‘sweet forest’. With real Madhubaani art, everything is covered in different patterns with no space and a lot of colour. There is no real structure to it, unlike modern painting. Madhubaani is very exaggerated and colourful. Yogi explains: ‘This is what makes my designs very enhanced, ornate and striking. Things don’t have to be in their real proportion, so you can go crazy with your imagination.’ Together with her vivid reflections and distinct art techniques, Yogy Rama’s collection is nothing like any other scarf line out there, as she clarifies: ‘my designs are very niche, because of the art forms. There are very few artists who are hand drawing their designs. They are my memories and they are unique to me. They have no structure or connection to reality. I’ve tried to depict them in a contemporary way. There is nothing out there that is as detailed and intricate.’

Yogi developed her artistic flair from her mum, as she reveals: ‘my mum taught me these ancient art forms. I wanted to incorporate Rama into the branding and logo as a tribute to her, since to me she is the foundation of any art form because I learnt from her. My mum is the root and I am the baby flower. She still gives me feedback and she is my biggest critic!’

Although art seems to be in her blood, Yogi only adopted art full time recently as she discloses: ‘I did my degree in civil engineering and completed my masters from Rutgers in America, after which I was a structural designer where I worked with bridges and industrial structures. I shifted my work from structural engineering to management. But then three years ago, I quit my job as I decided to do what I always loved. I started drawing again, but I really didn’t know what to do with them, until my husband saw some of them and said I should take this further.’

However, despite her husband’s identification of true talent in his wife, Yogi continued to pursue her passion as a hobby rather than a career, she continued: ‘I started making jewellery out of silver, gold and precious stones. I realised I loved high-end fashion and got the idea to utilise my unique knowledge and expertise of ancient art forms. The satisfaction I get as an artist is like no other, as there are no boundaries. With a content look on her face, Yogi muses: ‘It feels rewarding, like I have achieved something when I am painting. It’s like these scarves are because of me. You get that feeling that you can create something – this is you.’

In order to reach women from all backgrounds and to suit every individual persona, Yogi details the versatility of her scarves: ‘I wanted to design for women who want to feel elegant and be confident. The scarves really make a statement, as each design goes with a different personality. They are feminine, free and comfortable. I have met so many women who love colours but are afraid of being flamboyant. Women of any ethnicity can look good with a scarf, as you can style it as you wish. Many of my clients are African women who wear the scarves around their heads, since the colours go well with their cultural dress. You can go for the sassy look by tying it around your waist or you can become an Arabian princess by wrapping it like a decadent headpiece. The best thing is, when you wear a scarf, you don’t need accessories. When you’re in a rush, you don’t have time to find and wear your jewels. You can just grab your scarf and it completes an outfit.’

Following the success of her sumptuous scarf collection, Yogi plans to further expand her colony of designs, as she divulges: ‘Due to popular demand, I hope to introduce kaftans and sarongs. Staying true to my brand, my designs will always represent the beauty of the Himalayas and my nostalgic memoirs, assisted by the use of the treasured Madhubaani methods.’

To buy Yogy Rama luxury silk hand-made scarves and to keep up-to-date with her latest collections go to:

Yogy Rama

Interview by Fariha Sabir