February 1, 2019
First things first: after much consideration, I’m going to continue to use the Appaloosa des Steppes scarf, even though the design elements in the scarf are indeed from Kyrgyz rugs. I contacted the Kyrgyzstan embassy to ask if they were concerned or offended by this, and never received a response. After I read the Hermes website description of the design, I felt that they were using the images respectfully. I can’t swear to this, but unless I get better information, I’m going to carry on. (to catch up on this conversation, check the comments on last month’s installment of this series)
But don’t ever hesitate to contact me about things like this; I will always take your concerns very seriously, and try to respond responsibly.
So let’s pick up with our scarves, and add some outfits for February – Valentine’s Day!
It’s maybe too early to really see a clear trend in these wardrobes, but it is fun to see how everything so far looks together!
I love the possibility that this wardrobe could have a whole bunch of purple sweaters…
Sometimes, for those who don’t wear dresses, a lovely jumpsuit could be perfect…
I am getting a sense of this heroine…
I’m still enchanted by this combination of warm and cool:
Dressy doesn’t necessarily have to be too fancy or frilly:
This really appeals…
I’m starting to think that I need to re-apportion the colors in this color wheel; while in warmer weather I will be able to find beige garments, right now my proportions are off…
I love a good shirtdress…
This wardrobe is going to be really interesting…
Finding brown clothing is enough to make one pull out their hair…
So I do what any heroine would have to do – look to their other colors!
The evolution of this wardrobe is going to be interesting; everything will depend on how brown clothing becomes available through the year…
I’m still optimistic about how this is going to work out…
Even the simplest black dress looks dressier with a nice scarf and bag…
This is going to be great!
At this point, I’d be happy to wear any of these! I’m sure that will change as the months pass…
p.s. When I was trying to find links to the Hermès scarves, I found that there are a TON of counterfeit scarves like these available – at sites that even have the audacity to use the Hermès photographs! Don’t fall for this; the scarves might be just fine, but it’s intellectual property theft, and it’s rotten business…
Patricia Clements says
Regarding the dearth of brown: You haven’t often mentioned a heroine who could sew confidently and chooses to concentrate on those items which are difficult to find knowing that her construction and tailoring skills are up to snuff.
Thank you for the sensitivity and seriousness you showed to my comment. I would also like to thank everyone who responded with kind, thoughtful words. I am sorry, I did not realize my comment even posted – my browser did not display it until I clicked on the link this morning. I hope this comment posts correctly and that I can see it.
I respectfully withdraw my concern regarding your use of the image. I think that you have handled it perfectly, and I appreciate the lengths to which you went. Please treat the rest of the post as an explanation only – I do not wish to create any additional debate over your use of the image. I very much look forward to seeing how the wardrobes evolve over the next months.
I appreciate you reaching out to the Embassy, although I’m saddened by their lack of response. I
I was raised in the Kyrgyz culture (though not of Kyrgyz nationality), so the image on the scarf affected me deeply.
To answer your great question, although belatedly, I was not aware that the Appalosa is a specific horse breed. I should have checked, and I apologize for that. Horses are part of every day life for the Kyrgyz people, and I thought that the horse image on the scarf is part of that rather than a melding of cultures. There is a native Kyrgyz horse breed, ideal for the local environment. There is a lack of good articles, but this one gives a bit of an idea in case anyone is interested. https://www.advantour.com/kyrgyzstan/culture/horses.htm . Here is another, a short explanation of a traditional horseback game https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/kok-boru-traditional-horse-game-01294 .
Horses are not just transportation, they are companions, source of food (milk), entertainment (riding games), etc. Every by-product is used, including horse dung, which can be used for cooking fuel in the steppes where there are no trees. So you see, it can be somewhat sensitive.
The colors and shapes on the traditional rugs are deeply meaningful. The “real” ones, not created for tourists can tell a family’s or a person’s life story and their spiritual beliefs among the swirls, rectangles, diamonds, and color combinations.
To draw a parallel, to me this feels like a person of European origin dressing up in Native American clothes for fun. There is a reason children are no longer encouraged to play cowboys and Indians – it is painful and disrespectful to the Native American Culture.
I hope this helps clear my post last month, and again I’m sorry I did not respond earlier. I checked for comments but could not see any before.
Thank you for this information, and for taking the time to share with us all about something that is so important to you. I’m hopeful that all of the readers of The Vivienne Files know that I try to be fair, kind, and sensitive to the lives of us all. Please stay in touch and if you see other things that deserve more attention and discussions, let us know!
If we can’t learn from each other, we’re doomed. Both literally and figuratively. Community is the best source of strength we have…
big warm hugs, from freezing Chicago,
I continue to absolutely love the Appaloosa des Steppes scarf (purple) and the pieces you’ve chosen to coordinate. You have done your due diligence about it, so let’s move onward. A surprise favorite, though not very flattering colors for me personally, is the grey and peach/coral wardrobe. It’s so pretty!
nina t says
that shade of purple is not in my wardrobe. i would, though, buy that NIC+ZOE crinkled cardigan in a heartbeat, if it was other colors. it looks sturdy enough to survive a color removal and re-dye, but more research i would have to do.
Did you see it in Beige, on their website:
You could easily dye this if the beige doesn’t suit…
All of these are fabulous! I think your very best inspiration comes from Hermes scarves.
Alison M Gunn says
I find it somewhat ironic that the colors I wear are the foundation for the Hermès scarf that has raised so much controversy. The thing is, the culture in question has been selling their carpets outside their own country for some time now, long after having been ‘normed’ by Soviet societal dictates which sought to bring that area of what was considered Russian territory into compliance with Soviet ideals; the Kyrgyz people, of course, resisted Soviet attempts at cultural appropriation, but eventually, as happens with most cultures under pressure from a larger outside government, were forced by time and the vicissitudes of change to adapt.
The idea that artists, particularly European artists, are not allowed to be inspired by cultures not their own seems extremely narrow-minded, given the cross-cultural ‘pollination’ that occurs naturally as a result of Europe’s multcultural imperative in a post-colonial world. Cultural appropriation is a vexed concept, particularly when it comes to art. One could indeed argue that the Kyrgyz culture has now been given a much larger audience, and therefore awareness of its finer points, than it would have had if they had somehow been able to keep their now largely-diluted practices to themselves. Yes, they have a long, even ancient, tradition of worshipping nature, and yes, Hermès has used many culturally ‘insensitive’ motifs through the years. But Hermès relies on artistic motifs inspired by the cultures and peoples who cross into their country, by virtue of being one of the great marketplaces of the world.
It’s not realistic to claim that cultural appropriation is the same thing as inspiration based on the blending of ideas that occurs in places that receive immigrants from all over the world. But, having said that, it seems to me the best place to go to find out what the original impetus is for Hermès’ many uses of cultural images is to Hermès itself. Ask them why they produce scarves with the inscription of “Voyages de slaves,” for example, or Kachina dolls, or why they like the whips used on horses so much. Seems to me they represent one particular perspective on art, and we all know that art can be extremely divisive. However, focusing on a culture at these times is an educational process; now many people probably know more about an ancient nomadic culture than we ever thought we would, and that’s got to be a good thing.
In all fairness, Voyages de Slaves means Slavic people, not slaves. Thank heavens! But you’re right – they use a lot of Native American imagery – on some of their most popular scarves. It’s a difficult question…
My personal least favorite cultural appropriation has to be an English rugby club that does the full on “Chiefs” thing, complete with feather headdresses and war drums. In Exeter? Hard to understand…
I HAVE to ask a question which seems very dumb to me, but I’m starting to think that this could be an explanation. Is the name Karl May known in the United States? If not, he was a very famous and popular author in Europe and wrote many books on the so-called Wild West and American Natives (Indians). His most famous characters are Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, Winnetou of course being a Native American and Old Shatterhand a white man, who is a trapper (? not sure if that’s the right word… he’s someone who reads animal tracks and helps white settlers find their way and such). Anyway, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand become friends and have many adventures together. There are a couple of movies made from these books, and it’s safe to say that ANY German child growing up in the seventies and eighties has seen the movies and read the books. They are childhood classics! I don’t know about Great Britain, but could imagine the books and characters are famous there, too. And this explains the fascination with dressing up as Indians – everybody loves Winnetou!!! Everyone wants to be Winnetou!!! During our Carneval (Fasching) a lot of people still dress up as an Indian Chief with the feathers and everything. It has by no means anything to do with mocking or disrespecting the American Native culture. It’s celebrating a childhood hero – like Huckleberry Finn or Paddington (that cute little bear).
There’s always a good reason for fascination with other cultures – they’re interesting! But the Native American thing is SO touchy here in the US, because so many of the symbols – especially those for sports teams – are pretty insulting. It’s such a careful thing to balance, isn’t it?
And no, I’ve never heard of Karl May, and I used to run a bookstore! Maybe they weren’t being released in the US when I was there…
Dear Janice, yes, I’m starting to become aware of that… understandable, of course, given the history and all. Aaahh, that really explains a lot for me – in Germany, Karl May and his books are as famous as Mark Twain, for example. And it’s a lot of fondness involved with the characters and the story, which is mainly about friendship and loyalty. As to rugby or any other sports team (soccer…), I think one probably shouldn’t interpret too much into it – it’s men having a good time and for me as a woman, that can be a big mystery… ;o)
Due to a new job with a different dress code, I had to start rebuilding my wardrobe practically from scratch last year. I chose navy as my main neutral right away, and I knew I wanted a bright cool green as an accent color. But I struggled for months to find another accent color that was pretty, but not loud. Thanks to your use of the Appaloosa scarf, I’ve finally settled on that bluish-purplish violet color, and I love it! Thank you for the inspiration!
jeanette sclar says
I appreciate your sensitive response to the Kyrgyz inspired scarf, and feel you have responded appropriately. I’m also pleased that the original commenter has provided such lovely information. The rugs are an art form I know nothing about; the scarf designer has indirectly educated me!
Loving the lavender!!!! I have added a new favourite colour to spice up my navy, grey & white spring and summer core.
Under the influence of this series I tottered forth and found 2 tops and a cardigan on an early season markdown and am extremely happy about it all. They landed more on the mauve side which by happy accident seems to go well with my blush pink French five. I am still hoping for this shade as well perhaps later in this season.
I’m looking for a scarf in these tones, not being up for Hermes price. So far nothing but I remain hopeful.
I did find a lovely Kate Spade silk scarf at winners under 40$ Canadian that has mauve with blush & cranberry tones.
Sometimes the way I plan turns into a different direction. I’m enjoying the process. Thanks Janice!
I saw in your post that you were having trouble finding brown clothes. LL Bean is a good source. They have a lot of earthy or Autumn color choices and when I filtered for brown pants, quite a few came up. Good luck!
I have been looking at the Minnetonka Flats for a few weeks but haven’t ordered them. I’m curious if anyone has experience with them and would care to comment.
Lisa Laree says
I know I’m a couple of days late, but February was a short month, lol.
Here’s the outfit I did for Feb:
The black dress did not photograph well, unfortunately, but I’m happy with it. It will have lots of options.