by Louis Postel in Showboats International June 2016
As luxury items become increasingly globalized and mass marketed, Ikat is leading the opposition.
On a field of snow and frozen mud, Uzbek horsemen of Central Asia play a form of polo with a goat carcass. Another stands apart, about to release a falcon into the crystal air. But it’s their splendid Ikat clothing that catches our attention.
For Ikat’s unique designs, born of a painstaking tie and dye “resist” weaving process, bring us from the tribal to the modern mega-yacht world in a psychic second. Ikat’s blurred geometric patterns are soft, its rhythms a quiet breath in a noisy world.
The challenge for textile designers is to bring tie-dyed Ikat (pronounced ee-Kaht) designs into the present through their own creativity while respecting their authentic, timeless nature. As Stefano Barbini noted in this May’s “Owners’ Club” report, authenticity, simplicity and uniqueness “make the difference between real and fake luxury.”
In that spirit of pure luxury, the Parisian textile designer Manuel Canovas will be debuting a major Ikat collection this year, inspired by the coats of Uzbek horsemen and falconers. To the trade. http://www.cowtan.com/manuel-canovas
Abra Cadabra. The apparel-maker Hermes of Paris is also launching a new Ikat collection, this one an exquisite table service. The blurring effect you see is called “Abra” or “cloud” in Uzbekistan. It comes from dyes bleeding slightly into the tied-off clusters of yarn before weaving and/or from the unpredictable ways the weft threads are pulled longitudinally across the fixed warps of the loom. In this case, however, the blurring simply and movingly honors in porcelain the countless craftsmen who have worked their Ikat looms throughout the world — from Malaysia, to South America, from the Near East and Central Asia for thousands of years. From $160 to $4,100. http://hermes-of-paris.com
The Legend Lives On. Born in 1906, Jim Thompson was a Princeton-educated architect, art collector, a stage designer and director of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. An OSS secret agent in WW II, Thompson later settled in Bangkok, where he fell in love with Thai silk weaving, arguably saving the industry from extinction, organizing craftsmen and introducing the colorful fabrics to America in Europe. His disappearance in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia in 1967 set off the largest manhunts on land in Southeast Asia’s history. His company, however, has grown since then from 100 to over 3000. The word Ikat means fasten or tie in Malay, and so Thompson’s Ikat Collection is a tribute not only to this tie-dyeing art form, but to the man who nursed South East Asia’s textile crafts back to life. Blue Lagoon Ikat, above. To the Trade.
Glittering wake. In this Ikat, water droplets seem to be chasing diamond-studded reflections one sun-drenched afternoon at sea. What do you think? Price point is $60.00 to $80.00 www.vervain.com
/ Not the Same. Stefano Barbini in the “Owners Club” piece, decries the globalization and mass-marketing of luxury, the sameness of products. Mosaic designer Sara Baldwin could be deemed a kindred spirit. Founder of America’s premier manufacturer of stone and glass mosaic tiles, New Ravenna, Baldwin blogged about her recent obsession with hood ornaments. “I can’t help it,” she writes. “I think it might stem from my search for a new vehicle and the realization that they all look the same. Is this what automobile design has come to? How depressing.” Not depressing is Pamir, a handmade jewel glass mosaic designed by Baldwin, shown here
in quartz and lapis lazuli, part of her Ikat Collection. From $150 square foot. http://www.newravenna.com