December 08 2010
Lucia van der Post
For connoisseurs of scarves, the name Ascher resonates like few others – and the news that it is back in the scarf business is cause for celebration. In its heyday it was to the world of scarves what Manolo Blahnik is to shoes. A great textile house, it worked closely with the famous midcentury fashion designers such as Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Jean Muir and Pierre Cardin.
After the second world war, founder Zika Ascher realised that many of the artists he knew were badly in need of work, so he got them to design scarves (as well as print designs). But these were not just inconsequential out-of-work painters; they were artists of the calibre of Matisse, Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Sonia Delaunay, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland.
For the past 30 years or so, not much has been heard of Ascher in the UK. Zika’s son Peter has been running the textile side of the company in New York, but now Zika’s grandson, Sam, has just launched the first new collection of scarves under the label Ascher London. Homing in on the vintage theme, the great designs in the archive have been picked up, the proportions and colours slightly altered.
Three scarves feature Henry Moore’s designs – wonderful sketches of his typically monumental family groups, first created in 1947 (Three Standing Figures, pictured, in silk twill, 90cm x 90cm, £150). Then there’s work by Graham Sutherland, Feliks Topolski and Gerald Wilde. For the moment they can only be bought online in the UK, though they’re stocked in some US shops. The quality, needless to say, is wonderful. Silk twill and silk chiffon scarves cost from £150, cashmere-blend ones from £250.