Global curator Laura Aviva, best known for her l?aviva home collection, recently returned from Uzbekistan where she uncovered her latest treasure - Vintage Ikat Scarves. Originally part of the dowry of many Uzbek girls, these delightful colorful wraps are a must-have accessory for contemporary wardrobes.
What encouraged you to start l?aviva home and how did you go about doing so?
l'aviva home really started as a lark. It was originally conceptualized as a onetime only, two-week long trunk show - with the idea of featuring a selection of textiles that I had collected during my extensive travels (many while working as a Creative Director at Travel + Leisure magazine). It wasn?t a high concept, or very formulated, idea. It was based on a very simple ? human ? principle, when you are passionate about something, you want to share it.
Every l?aviva home product seems to contain its own wonderful story. How do you create this story in the design process?
The focus on story telling is a big one with us, and it's the common thread with the pieces we gather for our collections -- we are drawn to pieces made by master artisans that tell stories. We say ?the collections reflect the belief that the things we surround ourselves with should possess a soul, a history, and a purpose beyond mere decoration: they should help us connect to the world." There's something very powerful about surrounding yourself with things that have meaning.
Speaking of stories, how has l'aviva's story changed or evolved since we last caught up with you (in December)?
Up until this point, we've been focused on our home collections. The launch of our vintage ikat scarf collection marks our first foray into accessories, which I'm thrilled about.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
The inspiration really comes from the artisans and the traditions themselves. Our goal is to help them 'cultivate' the creations - by doing things like providing access to better quality raw materials, and access to new markets. I love the idea of bridging cultures - listening to other people, understanding traditions and perspectives, building relationships, and just nurturing the creation of things that are beautiful.
We love your Vintage Ikat Scarves from Uzbekistan that we recently launched on our site. What is the story behind the scarves?
I discovered the vintage fabric we are using to make these scarves on my last trip to Uzbekistan -- I found pieces of it stashed under a worktable in a workshop in Samarkand, and fell completely in love.
There?s an incredible story to these pieces, as they encapsulate part of Uzbek/Central Asian history.
During Soviet times, home based crafts were banned in favor of factory production, with an emphasis placed on top quality materials. And so the age-old Uzbek tradition of ikat was translated to the factory model. Instead of following the extensive, 37+ stage process involved in handmade ikat production, ikat designs were printed on swaths of meticulously produced silk crepe de chine. There were very stringent criteria imposed upon the production of this fabric, starting from the way that the cocoons were raised, and continuing through to the quality of the weave on the machines. And the result was this incredibly luxurious, vibrant fabric.
This fabric was highly coveted (and expensive, even in Soviet times). Brides purchased small swaths, all they could afford, enough to stash away in their dowry chests and then make a caftan or pants (or both, if they were particularly flush) come their wedding day.
As trends changed, these swaths of crepe de chine ikat often languished, forgotten, in dowry chests across the country.
We now have a group of scouts scattered throughout the Uzbekistan, gathering all of the fabric they can find for us. From it, we?re fashioning these luxuriously large scarves (large enough to make super pareos/sarongs). And we?re finishing them with contrasting-color zigzag stitching that emulates the stitch that was done during Soviet times.
And so, beyond just being super gorgeous, I'm captivated by how these scarves capture part of the story of Central Asia ? of history, of memory, and of unyielding creativity.
Where did you go on your most recent travel and what was most notable about your trip?
The most superlative part of the trip was marked by my visit to Urubicha, a town that lies deep in the Bolivian tropics, to work with the ladies who make our incredible hammocks. I was hugely moved and inspired to spend time with these ladies, who are creating such nuanced and sophisticated pieces in the most remote of locations. Together, drawing on the inspiration of the hammocks, we developed designs for our new woven + tasseled bedcovers, and also luxe oversized bags, which will launch this fall.
The l'aviva scarves are beautiful and can be worn in a multitude of ways. Here are some of our favorites: