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Belinda Carlisle's trips to India turned into a new career path, in home goods

In this undated photo released by Belindia, a blanket by singer and home-goods designer, Belinda Carlisle, is shown. Carlisle's new home design collection, "Belindia," inspired by her travel to India, is being sold at Bergdorf Goodman. (AP Photo/Belindia)

NEW YORK, N.Y. - "Home-goods designer" was never a particular aspiration for Belinda Carlisle, the singer best known as part of the Go-Go's. But, she says, she was spending so much time travelling, and especially travelling to India, where she was surrounded by beautiful textiles and glorious colours, that she had to figure out how to put all of it to use.

"I guess I sort of had a knack for it," Carlisle says.

Her new collection, called Belindia (yes, that's a slight tweak of the spelling of her name), is being sold at Bergdorf Goodman. On a recent trip to New York, she made sure to pass by the retailer's famous Midtown windows to see her blankets and tabletop items on display.

She wouldn't have imagined it a few years ago. "It really started with three or four of us not knowing anything about how to start this sort of business, and one year and nine months later, we're in store," Carlisle says during an interview.

She adds: "I was spending six months a year in India, and I thought, 'I have to justify it.'"

Originally, she was drawn to India more as part of a spiritual journey that included yoga and charitable work, but as she "peeled away the layers of India," she became more and more enchanted.

For the collection, she allowed her eclectic, unconventional tastes to take the lead, she explains. In her own home, it's something ladylike here, something left over from her punk days over there. Nothing matches, she says, and that's the way she likes it.

Carlisle is in the process of moving back to Los Angeles after making her home in France for many years. Her furniture and beloved collectibles and souvenirs will go back to the United States with her, but she's sad that her favourite ride, a 1973 Citroen DS 23, probably will not. There's a practical side to Carlisle, and, she says, she's concerned that if anything were to go wrong with the car or it needed a new part, there'd be no help available.

Carlisle considers her bedroom the most important room of the house because she does much of her work, as well as her relaxing, on her bed, which she covers in throws and pillows.

She plans to put one of the original blankets from Belindia's debut on the bed.

She'll also put one of the tablecloths on her dining table, Carlisle says, but although she is making a table runner too, she doesn't see much use for one.

It must be one of those things that people who throw elaborate dinner parties need, she says, but she's definitely not one of those. "I don't spend money on dinner parties. I'd much rather have a good loaf of bread and save my money for travel," she says.

Her next planned big trip — after that U.S. move — is again to India, where she wants to go to even more remote places by train, carrying just a backpack. "It's going to be a no-jewelry, no-makeup kind of trip."

Some textile items from the Belindia label raise money for the Shuktara Project, an organization based in Calcutta, India, that cares for abandoned children with disabilities.

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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