Scarves and shawls have been having a major fashion comeback in the past year or so, and I cannot get enough of them. I currently have about 8-10, and I barely keep myself from buying another one everywhere I go. Scarves are such great multitaskers – they keep you warm and they accessorize your wardrobe. There is NO easier way to make an outfit look instantaneously chic than to throw a cool scarf around your neck and shoulders. Wool, cotton, silk… vintage, designer, handmade – they are all great and they all can kick a plain tee-shirt and jeans up a notch. Add a pair of nice boots or heels, and oversized sunglasses – and forget about it – it’s the height of effortless cool.
Classical beauties like Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Lauren, Grace Kelly, even the famous dancer Isadora Duncan (read about her freaky scarf story here) knew something about the allure of a well-placed scarf.
I suppose it was always inevitable that I would fall in love with scarves and shawls, as they have been a hallmark of Russian wardrobe for as long as that nation has existed. Far from being just “babushka” head-coverings, shawls in Russia have always been fashion statements, works of art and symbols of traditional Russian garb. Made usually of fine wool, and sometimes of silk, they are exuberant in bright colors and elaborate in patterns and designs. Most commonly they are decorated in unabashedly feminine floral motifs, and/or paisley.
Shawls have also been featured in many a Russian classical painting, such as the ones below. I think the true uniqueness of a Russian shawl is its accessibility. From peasants to wealthy society ladies and countesses, to modern fashionistas, colorful shawls have been draped around the faces and shoulders of Russian women throughout generations and socio-demographic strata. They are comforting, utilitarian, and yet opulent, all at the same time.
I currently do not own a true Russian-made shawl. Sure, I could always order one from a multitude of online stores peddling scarves, galoshes, and matryoshka dolls, but I really want to go to an open-air Moscow market, walk around, browse and feel them all, and find one that really “speaks to me.” Hopefully someday soon!