Vicki Kim – creative director of candle label Tête-À-Tête Incendere – is concentrating hard. She has a washed-out frangipani print cashmere scarf by Sydney-based label Get Me To New York wrapped around her head, and she is twisting the ends tightly together along her centre-part line to form a crested turban. “This is the most advanced scarf [tutorial],” she says with a smile. She looks fantastic: retro but still modern, very chic. As Brad McGlashan, owner of Skarfe, the boutique scarf store tucked away in Potts Point where our photo shoot is taking place, says later, “No one else pulls scarves off quite like her.”
Kim has been a scarf-tying aficionado for years, and says she wears them at least once a week. “They are a great accessory, and when you are wearing something plain, [a scarf] makes your outfit really different,” Kim says. “Or when your hair won’t work in your favour… ” she adds, laughing. “I do that a lot.”
The Get Me To New York scarves are some of her favourites. “They are big scarves,” she says, holding one up and watching it unfurl in the wind. “You have a lot to play with.” The scarves, designed by Rhamya Freitas and featuring prints from photographs taken around the world during Freitas’ many travels (they are “indistinct depictions,” Freitas says), come in different blends of chiffon, cashmere and silk. “They’re not too slippery,” Kim notes, “When [silk] scarves are too slippery, it just won’t work.” For this reason, Kim recommends scarf-tying novices seek out softer mixes of cashmere, modal or cotton, because they are easy to manipulate and fit snugly against the head.
Most headscarf shapes, Kim says, begin by folding the scarf in half into a triangle. If the shape requires more coverage – as do turbans or the wrap look with a twisted pinnacle Kim dubs a “Mohawk” – the full triangle will be wrapped around the head, apex against the forehead, as the first step. If the shape is more like a headband, such as Kim’s cutesy ‘pin-up’, top knot and floppy bow styles, the triangle shape will be folded in on itself to create a long, rectangular strip which is then wrapped around the head, starting at the nape of the neck.
The majority of the shape will come from the ends of the scarves and what you do with them. It could be twists and tucks, as used in the Mohawk turban and its head-cresting twists, or it could be folds, as in Kim’s Grey Gardens-inspired look, which folds over the head with a knot tied at the side. It could even be as simple as a series of knots, or a big floppy bow at the pinnacle of the forehead.
“My tip is to have fun with them,” Freitas tells us. For Freitas – a frequent traveller for business and for pleasure – the scarf is a multi-tasking accessory that should be in every wardrobe. “I love that they take up little room in your suitcase, but can work from day to night, hide bad hair days and work in cold and warm seasons,” she says. “These luxury pieces can serve more use than tied to a bag or around your neck.”