Fashion and art unite at luxury scarf atelier Alba Amicorum, opening soon in Kinnerton Yard. Founder Darshana Shilpi Rouget tells Cally Squires all about it.
I lived in New York for 20 years and was a creative director working with many different brands.
Then I reconnected with my now-husband, who I’d first met in 1987.
We’d lost touch for 17 years and met by chance again, which was when I then moved here to London.
My parents were both artists and my brother is an architect, so I grew up in a creative environment.
I was 40 when I moved here, and it’s always harder to meet people at that age, especially when you work alone.
I really missed my creative circle of friends that I had in New York.
So I thought maybe I could create scarves as the canvas for art, and get all of my creative connections to contribute.
Painter, photographer, writer
I started with myself, a painter, photographer and writer.
Also, I didn’t want it to be a brand belonging to any one region of the planet, because I grew up in India, lived in New York, married a French guy and have now been in London for almost 14 years.
Really I feel like I belong everywhere and have friends from pretty much every corner of the world.
I hope the new atelier on Kinnerton Street will be open by November. We’ll be launching with a collaboration I’m doing with the Man Ray foundation.
I happened to meet his niece by chance, and he’s been my mentor for photography since I was an art student, so I was thrilled to be asked.
She took me to the archives in Long Island, NY, and we chose two of his paintings and two photographs to make four limited-edition scarves.
The space is by appointment, so I really get to know the client and we talk about the artists.
I’m also now going to arrange, if the client wants, a visit to the artist’s studio. From time to time I’d like to have artists come to Kinnerton Street to talk about their work too, as well as doing a design for a scarf.
I found a fantastic production house in Como through an Italian friend who I met when I was doing a diploma in Indian art at SOAS.
It’s really art being printed on fabric, so the colour is really important, and they are very good at being precise.
We choose the fabric according to the artwork, so it could be silk, cashmere or modal, which is made of beech wood fibre. We do try to use natural fibres.
Framed like a painting
The images are digitally printed.
To clean them I prefer to just steam and air them, because I don’t think dry cleaning is good anyway. In India silk is always washed at home and it lasts for hundreds of years.
It’s interesting because I used some of my father’s paintings as scarves. In India people who wanted to own some of his work bought them to frame like a painting.
But what I like about a scarf [as a medium] is the creativity continues with the wearer and their own personal expression, whatever that may be.
Scarves cost from £400.