Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Aschers to ashes

Scarf designed by Jean Cocteau

Inspiration for the English Eccentrics Fairy Tale of London - Autumn/Winter 2006 Collection

Scarf designed by Picasso for the 1950s World Youth Convention

Scarf designed by Jean Hugo
Both from rennies seaside modern

Papacha hand tufted mohair dress fabric
Designed by Zika Ascher and Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1964

'Zika Ascher is an innovator, the man who introduced the mohair cult, and the flowered prints launched by Christian Dior.'
Vogue, January 1962.

Zika Ascher came to England from Prague in 1939 and established a small textile business in London with his wife Lida. During the 1940s the Aschers commissioned leading artists such as Matisse and Henry Moore to design a collection of headscarves to brighten up the dull postwar British wardrobe.

From 1946 Ascher supplied fabrics to the international fashion industry. They opened their own printworks and became known for lively screen printed designs. Ascher textiles, especially the artist designed ones, now feature regularly in exhibitions and at auction.

Years ago, David Gill (one of the greatest proponents of the applied arts) had some of the last remaining silk screens from Ascher's vast archive. They told a sad tale of neglect. Even though they should have been preserved as a national treasure they were allowed to deteriorate. This was in part due to Ascher's prickly nature, and a general lack of interest in the applied arts at the time. Had Ascher worked in France, I suspect the archive would have survived.

Now playing: Blondie - Rapture
via FoxyTunes


Easy and Elegant Life said...

Commissioned Henry Moore and Matisse to design headscarves!

Does anyone do this sort of thing these days? We need more Aschers in the world today.

Really interesting post!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Love it! Absolutely love it!

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

E&EL - glad you liked it.

I don't think this could happen now. Ascher's motivation was perfection, not money.

I think, the last really great collaboration was
the work done by Stephen Sprouse for Knoll and Vuitton. Everything else has just reeked of commercialism, i.e. Murakami's work for Vuitton.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

Thanks, AL.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

HOBAC, I long to know more about the small collection of fabrics that Marella Agnelli produced in the 1970s for Abraham, the Swiss fabric firm owned by Gustav Zumsteg.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

Ah, Abraham...{sigh}. I too am very curious.