Barbara Agnes and the silk scarves of your dreams

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If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a fan of Barbara and her work. She truly is an artist so I wanted to round out my blog series on Barbara with a chat about her work….

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Me: Let’s talk a little bit about your work, your designs.  Because you design clothing but you design the patterns of the…

Barbara:  Yeah.  Mostly prints.  I’m a textile designer originally and so when I moved to Paris I wanted to do something for myself because when you work for other people, your design textiles but you never really do your own thing.  So I wanted to do that as well as work for others but I really just felt like having an outlet.  

Because before that I worked in Hong Kong, and I’ve learnt a lot but it was extremely commercial.  Whereas before that I worked in London and Paris, that was very creative.  But then in Hong Kong, I learnt the skills on how to actually produce things, how to run a fashion brand… basically more the production side of things. How you actually make things happen. 

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Then I started the scarf brand because I wanted to use prints and I wanted to have a product that was not too much to handle.  Because if you start doing clothing, you have to have different sizes… different everything.  It’s a whole different thing. It’s much more complicated.  Since I’m mostly print-orientated so this was the more sort of natural kind of obvious choice for me.  So that’s why I did that.

And I didn’t really plan it all that much. My first collection was feathers so I drew a feather print. Everything that I do they say it looks like feathers.  So I did that.  

And I knew a showroom and they took me on and then Colette bought it in the first season.  So that went really well.

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Me:  That’s fantastic. 

Barbara:  Then I was almost like chasing after myself because I didn’t set out with like the whole kind of proper business thing or whatever.  I just sort of did the collection.  

From there I designed my scarf and the different sizes.  They have a little pearl on the edge and they’re made in France and they’re hand-drawn.  I wanted to have a really nice high-end product.  I mean, something that I would like to wear.  Because I wouldn’t like to have a scarf that’s not nicely made.  

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I think either I’d like something that’s made let’s say in India, because I also produce things there.  That’s very kind of earthy, like linen.  That’s block or theme-printed.  That actually uses their expertise over there to create a product that’s a bit more raw but very natural. Or something that’s much more kind of chic, like a silk and a beautiful finish and high quality print and like a little pearl.  

Me:  How do you wear your silk scarves?

Barbara:  You know, people ask me that and I don’t know what to say.  I just wrap them around my neck.  I do that but then you can also wear them as a top.  You can wear them as, I guess, not a sarong because they’re a little bit too small.  But like different ways of how to make them work as a top, I think.   

I think it’s not so much how but what you wear it with.  I think that’s sort of more the question.  So you can just wear it with a basic shirt.  If you want to tune it down a bit, wear it with like a t-shirt. I think it’s nice if you just wear very casual things and then put on the silk scarf and it makes your outfit…

Me:  It kind of elevates everything.

Barbara:  Yeah.  It elevates everything.  It’s not much effort, if you know what I mean.  It’s just sort of easy.  So even if you have a denim or something.  It works with denim, it works with cotton, it works with leather.  But then it’s more kind of, well, if you have like leather and more kind of expensive, let’s say, materials then the whole thing looks a little bit more expensive. 

Me:  What’s your favorite part of your job?

Barbara:  Well, I guess my favorite part, which I do the least, is drawing.  Because I still love illustrating.  I love drawing.  The creative part.

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Me:  What inspires you?

Barbara:  Well, you know, just because I draw flowers doesn’t mean I’m inspired by flowers.  Sometimes it comes from a different place.  

One collection is called Be Mine and it’s based on the femme fatale and the dark side of the female psyche.  One scarf is called Salome.  It’s not necessarily about niceness.  It’s more about the darker side… like envy.  All those kinds of things that happen with women or in women.  So it was more based around that.  

And then the color scheme from that and there was a lot of black and white and greens and things like that.  So it comes from an idea and then generally, it translates into something organic and floral or quite soft lines. 

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Me:  How many collections do you do a year?

Barbara:  Now, I do one a year.  I used to do two and now I do one because I felt it worked better for me. And I didn’t really want to do summer ones.  I didn’t want to do summer stuff.  I’m not feeling it.  

So I found I really like the silk and I like the heaviness of the material.  I’m more into winter colors.  And you can also wear them in summer.  It’s not exclusively for winter.  But I kind of feel I like colors that are a bit more muted and not so much into the big splash of fuchsia or something.  Or maybe as a little detail or like a background or something like that.  

Me:  Do you do tops as well as scarves?

Barbara:  Yes.  I do tops, scarves and bottoms as well.

Me:  Oh, do you do bottoms as well?

Barbara:  Yeah.  They’re based on pajamas, sort of inspired by pajamas.  So they have other details of a pajama but they’re silk blouses. If you like, you can also wear them in bed.  You can wear them everywhere.

It’s like one full day.  It’s the whole day.  You wake up in it and you leave the house and then you go back to bed.  

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Me:  The epitome of effortless.

Barbara:  You can wear them in L.A. with your flip-flops.

Me:  And my cut-off denim shorts.

Barbara:  Yeah.  That’s a good look.

Me:  Definitely, I would wear like cut-off denim shorts and a silk shirt and some cool lace-up sandals or something.

Do you have some prints that are your absolute favorites that you designed?

Barbara:  I did.  I did a feather print that people always love.

Me:  And that was your first.

Barbara:  Yeah, that was my first.  Then I also have a mushroom print which is a bit abstract.  Like people love the mushroom print. It’s a bit weird. But people love the mushroom print.  It’s one of my favorites too.  

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I mean, they’re all… I can’t really pick but obviously I like them all because I’m bringing them out.  But really, I do like the mushroom.  I like the feathers and then I like this one.  This is like a Dutch floral.  It’s deconstructed. I have a painting, a traditional Dutch painting.  So I would take the tulips and all the flowers that are there and then I’d draw the different petals or the different flowers and then I’d take them apart and then re-arrange them in a different way.  That was the concept.

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The deconstructed Dutch Floral print

Me:  I think it so cool. Barbara, thank you so much.  It’s just been so fun to talk with you and I absolutely love your stuff.

** all but the last photo – credit to Barbara Agnes.

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