Scarfing Art, Ascher-Style

I've never been much of a girl for silk scarves, but in the wake of Hermès going on a mission to give its own silk squares an image makeover, my interest was piqued enough to go digging around the Internet for more info on scarves that served as something other than a clichéd feature in most people's image of Parisians.

The story of Ascher's artist scarves (as they're known) began during World War II, when Lida and Zika Ascher of Ascher Textiles began asking leading artists of the day to collaborate with them on the design of a series of silk scarves. This, as a concept, isn't exactly a new one: one could imagine that scarves provide artists with more flexibility to work in two dimensions than, say, a dress, and art/fashion collaborations weren't unknown (e.g. Dali and Schiaparelli, Chanel and Cocteau, Dali illustrating covers for Vogue...) . What is staggering, however, is the roll call of some of the 20th century's greatest artists who designed limited-edition (probably by necessity, since finding materials for the line in post-war London in the era of rationing can't have been easy) scarves for Ascher, which went on sale in 1947. The artists, you ask? Take a deep breath first: Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Feliks Topolski, Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau, Zao Wou Ki, Graham Sutherland, and Henri Matisse, among others.

Eighteen of the scarves were reissued in different colourways earlier this year in limited editions (which is how they came to the attention of the wider public recently), and even though they're staggeringly expensive, I'd still recommend taking a look- here, because that is how fabulous they are.

all pictures from ascherstudios.com. Images, top to bottom, 1. La Mer, by Alexander Calder 2. Le Jour et la Nuit by Oscar Dominguez 3. Nocturne, by Jean Denis Malcles 4. Landscape Fantasy, by Andre Beaurepaire 5. London 1944, by Feliks Topolski 6. Black Trellis, by Graham Sutherland 7. Visage, by Jean Cocteau 8. Echarpe no. 1, by Henri Matisse 9. Paysage Bleu by Zao Wou Ki 10. Contrabandier by Pedro Flores


jo said...

i think i'd take these over hermes anyday. would love a henri matisse round my neck please!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

^I do think a Matisse around the neck would be fab, but I'm more enamoured of Topolski. I do agree with the rest though.

jean said...

I came across your interesting post while researching Jean Cocteau and concerning his Ascher scarf...Gawd knows how I love the scarf that alas I'll never own but there's a much more affordable alternative. Some years ago I had some of my favourite Cocteau lithographs, bought from a museum souvenir shop, laserprinted on hankerchiefs and blank pieces of white silk at a local printing shop. The images were appropriately scanned & size-adjusted. The principle is the same as with printed T shirts and those kitchy calenders with your kid's face on it lol. I never really worried about the legal aspect of my prints as its for personal use otherwise JC de Castalbajac would have been in hot soup for plagiarism. Nice article that I had no idea about.

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