Fashion

MACKO'S MATERIALS: WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

-By Michael Macko, Details Fashion Director

The keffiyeh started out as a headdress for Arab men, protecting them from direct sun exposure and shielding their eyes and mouths from blowing sand. In the sixties, the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat adopted it as a symbol of the resistance movement and was rarely seen without one. And like the Che Guevara T-shirt, the keffiyeh quickly went from political symbol to fashion statement, causing controversy along the way: In May, Dunkin Donuts pulled a commercial featuring Rachael Ray after the conservative columnist Michelle Malkin claimed that the scarf she was wearing in the ad resembled a keffiyeh.

Arafatraykanye_2
Courtesy of Michael Macko/YouTube

While the company A Peace Treaty didn't introduce the signifier-cum-accessory to the fashion world, the two women behind the scarf line that launched this year—Farah Malik, a Pakistani Muslim, and Dana Arbib, a Libyan Jew—have updated its meaning. The friends were originally inspired by the fall/winter 2007 Balenciaga show that featured embellished scarves in the style of the keffiyeh. They took that idea and evolved it further, fashioning their versions from fabrics in bold checks and in-your-face stripes that don't so much co-opt the keffiyeh's message as riff on it.

Balenciaga
Courtesy of Michael Macko

The Peace Treaty girls didn't just want to make a beautiful product, though—they also wanted to do some good. Each scarf is hand-sourced from a different region of Pakistan, where, as with Scotland's tartans, weaving techniques are indigenous to specific areas. This means that local craftspeople get to continue to hone their skills while earning a living. Each scarf takes approximately two months to complete, and only 30 of each style are made.

Treaty
Courtesy of A Peace Treaty

Get your hands on one now and you can wear it through Indian summer and right into the chill of autumn. It's also important to note: The summer scarf was the standout accessory on the spring 2009 runways, so when the warmer weather returns, you'll be ahead of the other guy by a neck.

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