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What do mystics, Oliver Sacks and Blue Jeans have in common?

Showing the layering process of dying with natural indigo. This image shows the saturation of a cloth from zero to ten dips.

Blue Gold

Indigo is considered to be "other worldly." It's the color of the fifth Chakra, the Third Eye, and associated with mysticism, intuition and understanding. Spiritualists believe that we mere mortals are incapable of seeing true indigo. In 1964, neurologist, Oliver Sacks, concocted himself a psychedelic cocktail (not to be recommended!) so that he could see the "color of heaven."

His experience was as if a giant paintbrush threw a huge, trembling, pear-shaped blob of color on his kitchen wall. This miracle of luminous, numinous blue filled him with rapture.

No disrespect to the mystics or to Oliver Sacks, but Indigo is quite rooted on planet earth... literally!

Indigo, meaning "from India" in ancient Greek, is considered to be the grandfather of textile dyes. Egyptians used indigo dyed cloth to wrap their dead, but, even pre-dating the Egyptians, a 6,200-year-old indigo-blue cotton cloth was discovered in Peru, making it the oldest known textile decorated with indigo.

Since using natural indigo as a dye is an arduous and temperamental process, today, most of our blue jeans and other textiles come from synthetic indigo. Fortunately, the magical art of indigo is being kept alive by determined artisans, specifically in India. A skilled crafts person takes pride in keeping a vat of fermented indigo dye going for a year or more. If you'd like to play with the bluest of blues, we still have some seats available for this Sunday's painting and color workshop with Vessna Scheff. See you next Fashion Friday, denise

A vat of natural indigo dye.

Shades of Victorian Blue. Indigo was so desired that it was known as "Blue Gold" Images from the Met Museum.

Patrick Demarchelier pays homage to Dior Haute Couture with this intense denim ensemble in shades of the mysterious indigo.

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