Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Are Owls Turns Art Into Scarves

Two years ago, three friends who loved to put art and fashion into the same sentence set out to make scarves stand out as accessories. Rather than settle for a scarf that was meant to accent fashion, they wanted to design a collection capable of becoming a focal point.

The idea isn't as easy as it might seem. Such accessory designers have to think in layers because the designs always change depending on how they're worn. This is the main reason so many scarves carry patterns, prints that can be easily repeated like wallpaper.

Except that isn't the kind of fashion the founders of We Are Owls were thinking about. They wanted to create fantastical images that were bold, but still managed to carry the contrasting or complementary color palette of an accessory.

We Are Owls transforms the everyday scarf into extraordinary art.

The bold design of an owl taking flight wraps into a colorful palette of colors--blues, greens, reds. The scarf is part of the spring collection, with a focus on life — botanicals and animals.

At the same time, We Are Owls strived to create a bond between flora and fauna as it might be tied to primitive cultures. The collection is unique in that it quickly distinguishes itself as a different kind of scarf.

We Are Owls created works that pair roses blooming from crocodiles, snakes and vines, skulls and coral, bouquets and antlers. The contrast is further defined by muted pastels and bursts of color, expanding what any of their scarves might be worn with and who might wear them. These scarves don't represent the past as much as the present.

"If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is Nature's way." — Aristotle. 

The quote above is meant to capture the designer's spring collection statement. And there is something to be said for it. Nature has a way of looking chaotic at a glance, but always manages to come together in some more organized form. It might be wild, but there is something apparently structured.

As another example, consider the color choices found within the scarf Zebra And Blue. At a glance, it might look like any scarf, with a splash of two primary colors. But having seen it in person, it does more than lay across someone's shoulders and neck line.

It pulls out yellows and blues, but accents aquas and teals too. And when the scarf is opened, it brings to life two abstract zebras on the right that fall into a herd of zebras on the left.

Like most We Are Owls scarves, the material is made of a cashmere and silk blend. The dimensions are large, measuring 29 by 80 inches. Some other designs recently featured on Chic Tweak included a muted foliage pattern and the combination of leopards and butterflies (already sold out).

All in all, that is what makes all of the We Are Owls designs so striking. Lead designer Ling Chen concentrates on very contemporary images, sometimes an abstract that seems to come together to create the image and other times images are deconstructed into patterns, all dependent on how someone wears the scarf.

Chen has a keen eye that dramatically captures an increasingly diverse world.

Chen received her formal training in design and illustration from Parsons, The New School For Design (Parsons). Parsons is a well-respected prestigious art school with a vibrant history in art and design education. It was founded in 1896.

As much as Chen nurtured her critical thinking skills and creative understanding from the school, she also possessed a natural instinct and keen imagination. Much of it comes from being raised in New York City, where she has been exposed to an eclectic mix of people, neighborhoods, and cultures.

You see it in her design work too. At a glance, some of her designs are contemporary but still reflect images and attitudes respective of different cultures and lifestyles. At the same time, she fuses these elements together to make something uniquely multicultural, allowing a scarf to look modern and yet somehow tied to the timelessness of many cultures.

Scarves By We Are Owls Wraps Up 8.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

We Are Owls rethinks scarves in such a way that permanently removes them from a past-tense fashion accessory into something new, exciting, contemporary, and sometimes counter culture. With snakes, skulls, wild animals, and tattooed lovers appearing as part of the subject matter, Chen makes it clear that these aren't borrowed from yesteryear.

You can find select designs of We Are Owls direct, which is dedicated to bringing some of the best scarf designers under a single roof. There are plenty of other designers worth visiting and the site has a dedicated page that models the nine most common ways to wear a scarf, including the modern loop and double rainbow. We Are Owls scarves generally retail at $200. For more options, visit their store page.
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