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PARIS — We’ve seen them slung around the hips of Kate Moss and adorning the heads of Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson. Now, scarves are about to experience a full-throttle revival, thanks to top fashion houses such as Givenchy, Pucci, Balenciaga and Celine, which are using the accoutrements as a chic canvas for their retro prints — all in the time it takes to tie a knot.
“We always [think back to] European women and their elegant style and the foulard was part of that,” said Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, for whom scarves conjure up bygone icons such as Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and, of course, Givenchy muse Audrey Hepburn. “Fashion is going back to elegance and dynamism.” He pointed to the versatility of the scarf as an accessory that can be worn on the head, the wrist, around the neck or even tied to a handbag. “Like jewelry, it finishes the silhouette of a woman, expressing chicness, elegance and classicism.”
For Givenchy’s spring 2006 accessory collection, a large range of scarf styles will be introduced, including a line inspired by an archive design from the early Fifties: a trompe l’oeil impression of braided hair. In fact, a photo of a model wearing that scarf was used on Givenchy’s spring 2006 prêt-à-porter invitation, and the scarves are scheduled to make their debut Wednesday during the house’s show in Paris. “When I first saw this image, I was amazed by its modernity — that Hubert de Givenchy used those kind of surreal motifs at that time,” said Tisci. The scarves, which will retail from about $72 to $180, were designed in several colors and variations, such as allover embroidery on chiffon.
Meanwhile, Christian Lacroix, in his last season for Pucci, chose to take a more romantic route with scarves after he visited the firm’s archives at Palazzo Pucci in Florence. He said he was amazed by the sheer variety of prints there, which ranged from African motifs to flowers to graphic blocks. “For the new collection, we [chose] a mix of romantic four-leaf-clover bouquets and geometric octagons, unified by every possible shade of Grecian blue,” said Lacroix, adding that, to him, the scarf symbolizes “timeless glamour.” The collection will retail from about $180 to $300.
According to Pucci’s image director, Laudomia Pucci, its scarves are bestsellers for Mantero, which licenses Pucci’s scarves, as well as those for Kenzo, Christian Lacroix, Diane von Furstenberg and Nina Ricci. “The romantic, sweet floral designs are very unexpected for Pucci,” Pucci said, noting that the house is catering to a demand for alternative scarf fabrics this spring. “We’re using various cottons and beaded designs, as opposed to the traditional twill silks.”
However, Balenciaga’s Nicolas Ghesquière is bringing back the scarf in a different form for spring. The firm’s Edition line of shirts, created from various scarves, was inspired by Cristobal Balenciaga’s designs from 1965 to 1968. “I thought of scarves as an old-fashioned accessory which had disappeared from the wardrobe for a few years and liked the idea of revising them as an element of clothing,” said Ghesquière, whose favorite archive pieces include the short-sleeved Encre (“ink” in French), circa 1965, as well as the sleeveless shell top from 1967 and the strappy shirt from 1968. “We wanted to play on [these tops] using a different architecture.” The Edition shirts range from about $631 to $835.
Mars Rijkse, accessories design manager at Celine, also looked back to his house’s heritage to lift the scarf into modern times. “We took traditional elements such as the trompe l’oeil buckles, leather parts and chains and updated them using new graphics,” said Rijkse, adding that he steered designs away from the house’s traditional golden tones with more simple, clean designs in neutral shades. “We’ve also been playing with traditional elements, such as the border, where on one of the new designs you’ll see, say, a motif running off the edge of the scarf.” Celine’s new scarves retail from $72 to $216, and traditional elements, such as light silk twill fabrics or hand-rolled edges, have been maintained for quality. “The foulard accentuates, above all,” Rijkse said, “the house that it came from.”