This headscarf is one of a series known as the Ascher Squares, produced as part of an historic collaboration between Ascher Studios, an haute couture textile company in London, and more than fifty modern artists, including Henry Moore, Jean Cocteau, Alexander Calder, and painter André Derain, who designed the headscarf featured here.
Ascher Studios gave the artists carte blanche, so long as their designs measured 36 inches square. Some artists, like Derain, created abstract patterns that covered the entire surface, while others treated the surface more like a canvas, creating a central image that would be obscured if the scarf were folded or draped. The Studio received the designs in chalk, gouache, watercolor, and pen and ink, among other media, and it sometimes took months of experimentation before a design was successfully transferred to a screen frame for printing. Only two to six hundred scarves of each design were printed, and the frames were destroyed after production, making the scarves highly collectible works of art.
Mae Colburn is a master’s student in the Parsons-Cooper Hewitt History of Decorative Arts and Design program. Her focus is textiles.