Summer is on its way, our woolen scarves have found their place at the bottom of our drawers and we can say Hello to lighter options: the ‘foulards’ – French for neck scarf.
When I was a teenager, one of my grandmother’s best friend used to tell me, with a mischievous smile: ‘Never ever trust a man with a neck scarf’… I never understood why (I still don’t) but it made me laugh (and it still does). This totally unfounded mysterious claim, probably born out of an interesting personal experience, only made me like them more! By ‘them’ I mean scarves, not men with scarves – although it can look very stylish, too, on our male counterparts.
I have always worn neck scarves: at high school, university, work, on holidays; and so have my mother, aunts, cousins and girlfriends. For some, the neck scarf is the expression of continental chic. That’s why I’m only half surprised when people comment that it looks very French, when I wear one.
The French word ‘foulard’ came from ‘foulat’, which appeared in the mid 18th century and meant ‘light fabric’ in Provençal dialec. It soon evolved to specifically describe a silk scarf.
The usage of head scarves and neck scarves is, of course, more ancient. It can have religious or symbolic meanings but in this post we are focusing only on the more European usage, which had very practical roots. The head scarf was a cheaper alternative to fancy hats.
Women use to wear it on their head or around their neck to protect themselves from the wind, the sun, even from dust.
Since, it has become a fashion accessory in its own right.
It’s in Italy, in the late 1950’s, that the designer Emilio Pucci started creating silk scarves with vivid colours and arty patterns. He was soon followed by Hermès, Versace and many others.
Silk scarves are the most luxurious but you can also find options that won’t break the bank, like coton, satin, viscose or polyester scarves.
They are versatile and you can use them in many difference ways.
We have covered head and neck (so to speak!). You can also tie them around you wrist, on the handle of your handbag, or wear them as a skirt or a bustier if they are big enough.
Hermès present all possibilities on their website http://www.hermes.com and in their ‘silk knots’ mobile application https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hermes-silk-knots/id675298290?mt=8
Think Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn or Brigitte Bardot… And adopt a timeless ‘foulard’ attitude.