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The Markets in Udaipur, India That Inspire Ace & Jig’s Signature Prints

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Ace & Jig designers and founders Jenna Wilson and Cary Vaughan in India. Photos: Carissa Gallo of Sea Chant

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Jenna Wilson and Cary Vaughan, the founders and designers behind the indie label Ace & Jig, head to India every year to work with weavers for the yarn-dye textiles that make up the foundation of the brand’s collections.

Specifically, they travel to Udaipur: a city known for its high-quality woven fabrics, crafted by specialists on ancient wooden hand looms.

“We like to think we create textiles stories, and that our fabrics go on to live another life in the hands of the wearer,” says Wilson.

Their fall collection is inspired by Teddy Girls, a dapper subculture of ‘50s London that rebelled against austere post-war fashion with their own bold outfits: mid-length pencil skirts, tapered trousers, and long drape blazers accentuated with Edwardian flair, like black velvet ribbons, brooches, and dramatic shirt ties.

The brand took on the more fanciful elements for a collection of fall separates: tie-neck blouses, skirts and pants in stark plaids, and dresses with billowy sleeves and ruffled details. It's a more colorful and cozier interpretation of the vintage fashion movement — one that feels a little less rebellious but still a bit dramatic.

Ace & Jig's designers in Udaipur, India

Udaipur is known for its ancient beauty and surrounding picturesque lakes, and its vivacious marketplaces make for a vibrant creative springboard. “This city embodies pattern, texture, color, and is truly an inspirational dream,” says Vaughan.

The designers spend time wandering the Old City, peeking into colored alleyways for tiny shops and heading to market stalls for unique crafts, like traditional dolls, leather goods, and embroidered rugs.

Chetak Circle: The colorful bazaar is where “to find beautiful and traditional handicrafts” — everything from gemstone-colored saris to intricate silver bangles and heritage toys. String puppet shows are very popular in the area, so the two stock up.

Lake Palace Road Market: A “must-visit market for a textile lover,” as Vaughan describes, this shopping spot offers “rugs hanging down from rooftops, a plethora of embroidered fabrics, and handmade camel leather items.” They most recently bought several pairs of bright-colored embroidered traditional leather sandals.

Ace & Jig designers Jenna Wilson and Cary Vaughan in India

Where to stay: The luxurious Taj Lake Palace — made famous to Westerners by the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy — is revered for its incredible views and unique location in Udaipur. “It looks like the Palace is floating. It sits on an island and is only accessible by boat,” explains Wilson.

What to do: The City Palace, erected in the 16th century, is a complex of majestic buildings in “a beautiful state of imperfect perfection,” says Vaughan. Set against a mountain landscape, the landmark’s royal decoration remains in tact with faded furniture, frescoes, tiles, and colored glass.

Where to eat: Jenna recommends hotel bar Amrit Sagar for “excellent colorful cocktails.” Cary heads to Bhairo for rooftop views of Lake Pichola and contemporary European cuisine with an Indian twist. And both recommend Dal Baati Churma, a local dish. “It has three key components: spicy Dal, deep fried Baati and sweet Churma.”