Lockdown Inspiration: The Scarf Through History

by Kasia Skórzyńska

Slow life has been our reality for some time now and I’ve been trying to make the most of it. My somewhat dusty bookshelf was again my center of attention. 

One of my favourite bookshelf picks was a copy of L'arte nella Storia dell'Uomo, printed with care in Florence in Giunti Industrie Grafiche, with fantastic reproductions made in Fotolito Toscana e Raf. It was published in Polish in 1992 and left by a sister of my grandmother. 

The author of the book is British historian Mary Hollingsworth, who dedicated it to her grandmother. As I also owe a lot to both of my grandmothers - one a true artist and sophisticated garden creator and the other a free mind with a deep love for horse riding - I felt encouraged to start a centuries long journey throughout the history of art. 

I explored the art of ancient Egypt and Eastern Mediterranian civilizations, Ancient Greece and Rome... But also Africa, China and India. The respect for proportions, style and dignity can clearly be seen throughout various works, alongside a never ending desire for beauty, colour, prestige, and quality. 

The beautiful images I encountered reflected not only monuments but also unique people. It happened that scarves and colourful fabrics lent themselves to individualism and comfort, being used by men and women for centuries. 

Scarves were worn by women working in the factories and in the country fields and often scarves constituted a survival item rather than an aesthetic one. Scarves have helped to raise children, protect from heat, serve as backpacks and in many cases replaced clothing. 

Not to mention that scarves, shawls and colourful fabrics have always been an important part of folk and regional traditions in Eastern Europe. The beauty of its design and a careful execution can be proven by some of the outstanding pieces preserved with love. Even socialist propaganda posters projected female factory workers and tractor drivers wearing it quite often too.

The Eastern and Southern parts of Poland, as well as Ukraine and Belorussia, are well known for its still well preserved traditions in the textile field. The famous Słucki belt which has been used by the representatives of the Polish noble families were crafted in the manufactory in Słuck (today's Belarussia). It used to be full of colours and a golden thread.  

But for now, let's go through wintertime with shawls and welcome spring adding colorful scarves to our wardrobe. The modern icon Audrey Hepburn famously stated "when I wear a silk scarf I never feel so definitely like a woman, a beautiful woman" thus anchoring the scarf as a must have of each chic and sophisticated woman.