Vintage Ikat Scarves


Understanding the provenance of an object always makes it that much more special. And so when I learned how these gorgeous vintage ikat scarves from L'Aviva Home came to be, I felt compelled to share the story of their journey with you.

As told by Laura Aviva of L'Aviva Home... I discovered that this vintage fabric existed when I was in Uzbekistan last year. 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, but 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 luxe, vibrant fabric. The factories were located in the Fergana Valley (the center of silk production for all of the Soviet Union/Soviet block countries). This region continues to be a major silk producing region, and is where present-day ikat is woven.

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 with (or both, if they were particularly flush) come their wedding day.

As the soviet-block countries began to gradually open during the late 80s, other fabrics made their way in, and new obsessions formed for viscose and other synthetic fabrics - something that the people had never before seen. As trends changed, the swaths of crepe de chine ikat often languished, forgotten, in dowry chests across the country.

We now have a virtual army of scouts throughout the Uzbekistan, gathering all of the fabric they can find for us. And, 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.

Each uniquely designed scarf is either one-of-a-kind or very limited edition and captures part of the story of Central Asia – of history, of memory, and of unyielding creativity. We are captivated by these forgotten treasures, and thrilled to add them to our collections at L'Aviva Home.