mad dogs and englishmen

Silk scarf designer Jane Carr’s A/W13 collection combines English culture with Italian craftsmanship to create something truly unique.

Image courtesy of Jane Carr

Image courtesy of Jane Carr

There’s something almost violating about seeing someone wearing exactly what you are. Whoever it is -a stranger walking down the road, a co-worker, a fellow commuter- is suddenly so involved in your life. Something so personal, your individual style, suddenly belongs at least in part to someone else. If you never want to feel that way again, Jane Carr is your girl. Her silk scarves are rightly celebrated and her penchant for limited editions and capsule collections guarantees a greater degree of exclusivity.

“Creating limited editions is about celebrating the now,” the accessories designer, best known for her silk scarves and cashmere gloves, says. “That’s what appeals to me. I love to buy limited editions myself and wanted to create a range whereby you wouldn’t arrive at a party to find the same scarf on a friend. It makes the wearer feel unique.”
Carr, who graduated from Central Saint Martins and did a stint for Versace before starting her own accessories line in 2005, picked up a following quickly amongst celebrities and the fashion set. “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” her latest collection for men, is set to launch at Selfridges. True to form, and to celebrate the occasion, Carr has crafted the Pearly King Necker, a limited edition scarf sold exclusively in-store.

Mood board images courtesy of Jane Carr

Mood board images courtesy of Jane Carr

Carr states, “The exclusive Necker, which is one of our signature scarves, encompasses the spirit of celebrating the now. I have quite eclectic tastes, the new collection is inspired by a Noel Coward song fused with 1960’s British youth culture.” Carr’s inspiration is referenced through her use of print, featuring bulldogs and scattered safety pins. She continues: “It’s a collection for both the dandy and the rocker. It’s about two different cultures clashing.”
While Carr’s Selfridges limited edition scarf is technically part of her menswear collection, her work knows no gender barriers. She explained, “I believe that the difference between men and women tends to fade more and more with fashion. The modern man likes to experiment with his look and pays attention to what he’s wearing. When I design, my main concern is to create products that make you feel good. Sometimes our scarves can be unisex.”

Part of Carr’s appeal -and what allows her to shift so seamlessly between cultural mores and economic classes and tribes of all kinds- is that her work appeals to our most basic love: beauty. Carr has deep love and respect for craftsmanship. Her silk scarves are hand-made in Italy and her cashmere pieces are woven by artisans in Nepal. “I have always admired the Italian craftsmanship of silk production,” Carr said. “I believe it is something that needs to be preserved and promoted. Unfortunately the fashion industry appears to be forgetting more and more about craft; as brands have grown internationally they’ve turned to mass production. It results in poor quality that is too expensive.”

Carr may disapprove of global brands and their production methods, but all signs indicate that she’ll soon be a fashion power broker herself. July sees her A/W 13 men’s collection and its evocative title debut at Selfridges in London, Joyce in Hong Kong and Neiman Marcus across America. The pressure is on. She said, “It’s a very interesting moment for the brand. As we move forward with every collection our expectations get higher and the world smaller, but we’ve been very fortunate to have great support.”

Going global doesn’t mean forgetting what makes Jane Carr such an amazing brand: her work’s uncanny ability to make a mere object precious, both in a material sense by the force of its beauty and as an expression of our identities. Carr elaborates, “I think a scarf can replace a piece of jewellery and make you feel unique. It can change your outfit and your mood. We often collaborate with department stores on unique capsule collections because it gives the customers something special, which they know has been made exclusively.”

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Words / Lucinda Beeman
Follow her on Twitter @LucindaBeeman

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