When I first received the pitch about Vancouver-based designer Mark Holden and his peace-sign-emblazoned scarves, my instinctive reaction was one of distaste. I'd never been a fan of the peace sign personally. How could such a loaded symbol be reinterpreted in a stylish, meaningful way, and in a line of luxury scarves no less?
Happily, any lingering skepticism I had was quelled upon meeting Mark Holden and seeing the scarves in person at Kiss & Makeup last week. The oversize 'Adventure' scarves—done in a featherweight modal-silk blend—featured painterly peace signs that looked like bright daubs of watercolour when the scarves were worn. Neutral and neon chiffon scarves featuring a smaller peace sign motif, and script-emblazoned linen scarves, were also on display.
To hear Holden talk about his designs is to realize he's not just dabbling in fashion. He confessed to painting "hundreds of peace signs" before picking one that was just the right balance of "perfect and imperfect" for the 'Adventure' scarves. The yellow and red chiffons had to be just the right shade. And he described his relationship with his fabric suppliers as a creative collaboration rather than a mere customer transaction.
The meaning behind Holden's creations transcends the days of nuclear disarmament protests. As Holden sees it, these scarves are supposed to make the wearer feel a personal sense of warmth and serenity—an embrace in a piece of clothing, essentially. "We create wearable items with the intention of illuminating the possibilities for peace...Find your inner peace. Wrap yourself in it." That inner peace will mean different things to different wearers.
Inner peace aside, the scarves also promote a better world. Partial proceeds from the sale of Mark Holden scarves go to the Just Imagine Foundation, which funds a variety of local and global charities. Imagine that, a message of peace that has both style and substance.