I came across this scarf when I visited my mother last Christmas. It was my father’s but I had never seen it before. My dad was rather debonair and had a few silk handkerchiefs and scarves but I don’t remember him wearing them much in my day – he probably did more often in the 1950’s. Anyway – the pattern on this scarf is pretty amorphous but definitely made me think of stars and constellations. I like the simplicity of the design – it suggests a night sky but it is elegant and spare.
Its design led me to start thinking about how stars have appeared in patterns over the years. Some home textiles and fashion designs sprang to mind right away. But once I began delving into research I was truly inspired by the patterns of constellations and zodiac themes that I came across.
Marion Dorn was an American artist and wallpaper designer who travelled to London in the 1920’s where she set up her wallpaper studio. “Zodiac” was her first manufactured wallpaper and features a bold depiction of the astrological symbols. The juxtaposition of the bright primary colored shapes against the delicate white outlines is particularly effective.
I immediately thought of Piero Fornasetti when I was looking into this topic. Fornasetti returned again and again to certain themes in his work – stars, the sun, and the zodiac were one of them. Fornasetti collaborated many time with the designer Gio Ponti. One of the most unique projects was for The Andrea Doria ocean liner which was a luxury cruise ship. Together they designed private cabins on the ship which featured zodiac and star imagery on every surface. They are fantastical and so glamorous.
The textiles of Josef Frank are undergoing a resurgence of sorts – particularly his colorful botanical prints. His zodiac pattern of 1947 is a simpler and more graphic pattern, especially in its soothing color palette of blues and white. The fabric illustrates the zodiac constellations and their glyph symbols.
Alexander Girard – the great and prolific designer of textiles, objects, spaces and graphics, created what he called “Environmental Enrichment Panels” for office spaces in the 1970’s that were manufactured by the Herman Miller Company. These were intended to bring color, pattern and cheerfulness into the workplace.
Designers of the Art Deco period explored the cosmos for much of their work – especially in fabric and wallpaper. The gleaming surfaces and luxe materials of the period seem made for the subject matter. The Rodier Studio of Paris was prolific in designing and manufacturing high end fabrics for fashion and eventually expanded into home furnishings.
Elsa Schiaparelli designed the iconic Zodiac jacket for her Astrology Collection in 1937. It featured embroidery by the legendary Lesage studio of Paris. Symbols of planets, stars and the twelve astrological signs adorn the piece. Schiaparelli was inspired throughout her career to explore celestial themes, in part as an homage to her uncle, a prominent astrologer.
Fashion designers have looked to the stars for inspiration for decades. But it seems as though the trend has come back into favor particularly in the past couple of years. Houses such as Valentino, Dior, Chanel and Alexander McQueen have created some truly incredible pieces that feature exquisite embroidery of stars, planets, and the sun. There is a timeless yet dark romanticism to these pieces. Designers across all areas will surely continue to explore the celestial universe – it is fascinating to see how they interpret it according to their era and viewpoint.