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Style / Soothsayers and silk scarves

Scarf-inspired concepts from Christian Wijnants

Photos provided by vendors


Of course it happened now. Of course silk scarves are inspiring fashion again. I practically made it happen because just two weeks ago I gave most of my silk scarf collection away. “You are so lovely to look at,” I said to them, “and so lovely to hold.” But, I wasn’t using them, and I have a rule about storing: don’t.


Normally, I would have been able to predict this, this repurposing of the neckerchief, but I recently stopped reading my tarot cards. No matter how many times I shuffled the deck, no matter how many times I followed the tarot instruction booklet and slept with the cards under my pillow so the deck could “connect” with my “vibe,” no matter how good a girl I was that year or month or minute, the same darn card kept showing up. I kept getting the Tower card. In tarot readings, the Tower is worse than the Death card. “The Death card,” my tarot book says, “is not to be feared. It merely signifies the end of one cycle, the beginning of another.” Fine. I am used to cycles. We all are. But the Tower? The Tower is bad. The Tower is a symbol of disaster, a portent of true tragedy. Getting the Tower tells me I’m going to have to endure something. There will be no warning. The change will be radical. I will feel as if struck by lightning. My life will spin out of control. I will be left bewildered. My belief systems will be shattered, and I will be shaken to my very core.


Dior’s scarf collection features images inspired by tarot cards.


Right. Anyhoo, when this bad omen began appearing as regularly as my morning coffee, I accepted that I only had two choices. I could  (1) buy life insurance or (2) stop reading my fortune. Not seeing an annuity plan’s immediate benefit to me, I passed on insurance coverage. I decided instead to put the card and its instruction booklet into the bottom drawer of my dresser. I buried it under my collection of ill-advised exercise pants and jeans that will never fit again. And there the cards have stayed, so, of course, this is why I failed to predict that Maria Grazia Chiuri, the artistic director of Christian Dior, would incorporate the tarot designs from Motherpeace into the Dior fashion line. Monsieur Dior himself had his fortune told before every one of his shows.


The art of the scarf has moved beyond the broche, beyond the thing that separates the face from the suit or hard-edged neckline. The scarf-look now drapes shoes. We wear it under our hats, like the heroes and anti-heroes of the old black and white spaghetti westerns. Scarves appear as wee slips of fabric that adorn forearms. Dior labels their forearm wraps the “mitzah,” an homage to Dior’s muse and former courtesan, Louise Germaine Neustadtl, who went by Mitzah Bricard. Bricard is known for the quote, “When a man wants to send you flowers, say ‘my florist is Cartier.’” Rumor has it that Bricard wore a scarf on her wrist to cover a scar, but whatever the reason, it’s a graceful look. Today’s scarves, no matter where worn on one’s personage, are thin, designed to not encumber or distract. Some have even taken this idea of scarving into a dress. This is not a new construction, but the look is fresh. And the benefit of a scarf as dress means that I don’t have to learn how to tie a scarf in a way that separates me from Dale Evans, or in a way that keeps the scarf from spinning around my neck or at best serving as a crumb catcher.   


Left to right: Dior’s Motherpeace couture with the model’s left leg embracing the tarot’s Tower illustration;  another Dior scarf featuring images inspired by tarot cards.


I gave up on finding the Tower in the scarf collection. I reckoned that the message was too dark and foreboding for the accessories department. But then I saw it. Dior’s designers put the card design into a pantleg—one pantleg that walked down the runway. It is not my favorite of the show but I smiled when I saw it, and the smiling led to two pop up quotes from my own memory banks. “Embrace your misfortunate side,” I hear Darth Vader tell me. “Hello Tower, my old friend” the Simon and Garfunkel in my imagination sing. I guess disaster does not scare me anymore. Maybe I’m just used to it. This tells me that I have to get my old cards out and see what is coming for fall 2018, beyond an overwhelming sense of sartorial bewilderment.         


Read more of Catherine Berlin's fashion advice in this month's article, "Peace of mind attire."


Catherine Berlin is a writer and Buffalo native currently living in Sweden.


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