Wrapping Our Heads Around Scarves

There are scarves everywhere. Hundreds of them steadily turn up in every thrift store. A high percentage of them are boring. By boring, I mean there is no sensation that is evoked from the fabric. That, combined with a lack of strong visual appeal, is what creates the first impression. As part of the hunt, I have developed some shortcuts, based on the first impression. Although it sounds crazy – I skim the masses and look for a scarf that is alive. Alive with the sensation of the fabric, vibrant colours and an intriguing design. Then I check the hem, labels, corners, and look for signatures.

And sure enough, sooner or later, out of hundreds – one stands out in vibrancy and touch. It feels luxurious and the colors interplay beautifully within the canvas of the design. The edges are hand rolled and hand stitched. Such a scarf, when folded and draped, still captures and blends the components of the design.

To share a few things I have learned about luxury scarves:

Consider the fabric – Natural fabric is the most luxurious. It absorbs and captures the colors more vibrantly than synthetics. Silk and cashmere are also the warmest and softest to wear around your neck.

Consider the design – When laid flat, a scarf is like a canvas. The more colors and complexity, that which embodies detailed and sophisticated artwork – the more luxurious the scarf. The identification of artists among the famous scarf makers like Hermes, is a specialty of its own. What makes a luxury scarf really stand out in my opinion, is the way the fabric drapes and folds, bringing out smaller components of the design, that seem to blend beautifully no matter how you fold, drape or tie it.

Consider the colours – The most expensive scarves have the most number of colours, usually in a dynamic and vibrant range. Similar to offset printing, the more colour, the more expensive it is to set up and run the press.

Consider the finishing – No matter how you fold or tie a scarf, the finishing or edging is apparent. Luxury scarves have hand rolled and hand stitched hems. This complements and frames the scarf with a rounded softness and impeccable corners that do not have loose threads and linear flatness. I have read that it takes a good seamstress at least an hour to hand sew the hem of a scarf. But the time it takes would vary quite a bit, depending on the size of the scarf.

Expanding fashion horizons – Some scarves are truly beautiful works of art. The little bit that I have learned does not delve into the artistry of individual designers too much. But the artistry captures the imagination and makes you realize that it is an entire arena of fine arts, with much to be learned and appreciated.

The first two images in the post feature a silk Hermes scarf by H d’Origny, an artist well known for designing silk ties. He is now in his eighties. The two scarves featured below the Hermes, are scarves that in my opinion, are among the finest examples of luxury scarves. Both are vintage signed Louis Feraud scarves. The others are some more examples of beautiful scarves with interesting designs.


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The Image

The Impressionistic Image

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2014). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Valerie Hayes

Quiet West Vintage represents a private vintage and designer collection that has been gathered and stored over a thirty-five year period. I now look forward to sharing this collection and promoting the "Other Look" - a totally individualistic approach to style.