Not all of us can sport insouciant ways with scarves like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or Kate Moss. But their power to transform an outfit goes without saying, even if the only way some can deal with a silk scarf is by tying it onto their handbags, a very bourgeois Parisian way of showing off the Hermes squares.
YouTube abounds with videos on how to tie the knots or origami folds into bandanas, tops and even sling style bags, some easier to copy than others. A French friend whose father gifted her a Hermes scarf every birthday once spent ages showing me how to fold it in such a way as to wear it around the neck without it slipping. It's a bit complicated, but silk slips and slides and doesn't have the traction and staying power of fine wool or cashmere.
Ireland's latest scarf designer Ciara Silke from Galway (and the daughter of one of the county's greatest hurlers), lives up to her surname, using both silk and cashmere modal (a cashmere/rayon mix) for her latest collection. They are shown here in the various ways in which they can pull an outfit together, adding interest to a jacket, creating a summery top, highlighting a plain dress or making something look more luxurious.
A black jacket looks more stylish with a black and white scarf; a plain coat is transformed with the addition of a boldly draped red-patterned scarf while lifeless hair can be hidden under a colourful print to distract the eye.
A good tip for scarf lovers is to hang the piece of clothing together with the scarf in the wardrobe so it doesn’t get forgotten or arrange them on coat hangers according to colour and fabric.
Silke attributes her love of print and colour to the art classes she attended from a young age, held by the artist Vicki Crowley in Galway, who also paints on silk.
"I was so influenced by her and that was a huge inspiration," she says. Silke later took a degree in textiles at the National College of Art and Design and worked for a while as a surf designer for Portwest in Westport, designing hoodies and surfboards for the company.
Later, she did visual merchandising for Marks & Spencer in Galway before heading to New York and a number of seasons working for Diane Von Furstenberg while also studying for an HDip to become an art teacher.
“I got really hands-on experience with DVF,” she recalls, “and some of my designs were put into production for accessories like belts, wallets and clutches and my prints were used on dresses.”
Back home, she started her own business in December 2013 with a lot of floral and graphic prints. “What I am trying to create are classic designs that look like screen-printed fabrics but which are digitally printed and are bold and graphic to keep the look fresh and clean.”
Her scarves, both silk and cashmere modal are made in Como,
. The silk twill squares with names like Balmy Stripe and Flourishing Garden are 100cm x 100cm while the cashmere modals called Blossom Scatter and Exotica Herba
are a little bigger at 200cm x 60 and prices start at
Her stockists include Mrs Tea's Boutique, Ashford Castle; Seagreen in Dublin and Monkstown; The Design Centre, Powerscourt; Les Jumelles, Galway; Millars of Clifden; Rudi & Madison, Greystones; and Kylemore Abbey, Galway. She also sells online at www.ciarasilke.com.