On Tuesday I went to see a beautiful collection of scarves from Ascher London, clinic presented in a suite at Number One Aldwych. Marking their first collection of scarves in thirty years, the collection consists of some brand new designs sitting alongside classic designs from the Ascher library, reworked in new colourways.
Ascher was founded as a fabric house in 1947; their fabrics graced the catwalks of an amazing list of couturiers including Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Schiaparelli, Lanvin and Mary Quant. A husband and wife team, Lida designed and Zika printed the fabrics.
Rose Pom Pom, designed by Ascher studio, was featured prominently in a collection of dresses in Christian Dior’s 1954 collection
Fabric shortages during the Second World War lead to a rise in the popularity of colourful headscarves as an easy way to liven up dull uniforms. During the 1940s Ascher took advantage of this trend, initially reproducing nineteenth-century prints in vivid new colourways.
A selection of scarves from the Ascher archive
Later, they became the first studio to approach and join forces with artists to produce scarves from illustrations and paintings, boasting another impressive list of those involved: Matisse, Derain, Berard, Moore, Cocteau, Nicholson and Sutherland.
Sam Ascher, grandson of Lida and Zika, talked me through the current collection along with some vintage scarves and artwork from the Ascher archive. This included a rare opportunity to see some original and never-used ink illustrations by Cecil Beaton, complete with his handwritten instructions outlining the repeat pattern.
All of the scarves are made in Italy using luxurious silk twill, silk chiffon, cashmere and modal with hand rolled edges and the quality is immediately apparent.
Screen printing (rather than digital printing) allows the designs to be reproduced exactly, so that each design is as perfect as if it had been hand-painted. Some multi tonal scarves are produced using up to ten screens, ensuring each of the artists’ original brushstrokes is retained in perfect detail. There is definitely no cutting of corners where Ascher is concerned.
The collection look book features an illustrated guide of How To Wear Your Ascher Scarf. Names like The Sports Car and The Parisian Loop conjure up images of glamorous femme fatales racing around the Home Counties in classic cars. The whole collection captures the optimistic glamour and elegance of the post-war era.
One of the scarves designed by Henry Moore is described in the look book as Bridging the gap between fashion and fine art, Aschers designs are described as equally at home in a frame or worn on an evening out.
The designs were celebrated with a retrospective at the V&A back in 1987 and they are still held in many museum collections, evident by the two Henry Moore wall hangings on display, which I was told had been unexpectedly sent over by the Tate that morning.
All photography by Naomi Law, unless otherwise stated
For those of us looking for clothes we could really see our butts in next spring, information pills Elliott J Frieze hit the spot. Everything was accessible. Everything was wearable. Minus the blue lipstick.
Looking at the catwalk, more about I saw city-worker-attends-summer-garden-party. It was all laid-back utility workwear with trench coats, order jumpsuits and easy dresses. Luxe-fabric and sexy tailoring were what then brought the elegance and bold femininity to the overall look.
It was a soft attempt to celebrate all that is quintessentially British – tailoring, textiles and all. However, I think a little more Vivienne Westwood Anglo-Oomph would have pulled it all together perfectly. Delicate gingham was used as well as duchess satins and a lot of cotton. But a little more tweed or tartan wouldn’t have gone amiss.
The male models (bless them) were also assigned the blue and white sparkling lipstick. Their wardrobe consisted of quirky, structured waistcoats and embroidered jackets. Everything was tailored well but a care-free feel ran strongly throughout. The clothes were, in a word, fun.
Then, in amongst the funky French house music (which I LOVED) and strange-lipstick action, something very random happened. The lights went down and ‘ooh lala’ beats faded to Doris Day echoing ‘When I Fall in Love’. Her sweet voice silenced the audience until a mysterious lady in head-to-toe satin appeared and sauntered, VERY slowly, up and down the catwalk. Turned out that this strange saunter was none other than actress Anna Popplewell, muse and friend to Frieze. Her smiling blue lips (yes, she too was victimised) appeared for a second time when Frieze stepped onto the catwalk holding her hand to receiving his endless applause. The audience’s reaction was pretty lively. To the point that an excitable man in camel chased Frieze & muse up the catwalk to get a close-up photo. Now that’s dedication.
I imagine they’d have needed numerous crates of hairspray to prep the models for this show – hair was big. Very big. The towering quiffs and pulled-back tumbling curls added sixties glam and style to a traditional English foundation.
Half of the front row at Elliott J Frieze were occupied by friends and family – a pain to all fashionistas (who were lusting after those front row goodie bags) but, ultimately, a testament to this designer staying true to his roots and his British heritage (with added glamfactor).
I think I could take quite a bit from Frieze for my spring/summer 2011 wardrobe. Powder blues and yellows – definitely. Gingham – maybe a little. I think I would even try out that ultra-huge hair. But I will never, I repeat, NEVER wear blue lipstick. I think I’ll leave that particular Elliott J Frieze look.
All photography by Jemma Crow
Categories ,Anglomania, ,Anna Popplewell, ,Blue Lips, ,Doris Day, ,Elliott J Frieze, ,London Fashion Week, ,menswear, ,S/S 2011, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,Vivienne Westwood, ,When I Fall In Love, ,Womenswear
- London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: Elliott J Frieze
- London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Catwalk Review: Elliott J. Frieze
- London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Catwalk Review: Elliott J Frieze (by Matt)
- London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: Jena.Theo ‘Bandoliers’
- London Fashion Week: Qasimi