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Silkroad and Susan Scarf

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25 Vulcan Lane

The distinctive iconography, strong graphic prints, and strong structural lines that were a hallmark of Silkroad (later named Susan Scarf) proved popular with famous Italian fashion personalities in the early 2000s.

This set the small Kiwi label on the path to international recognition and success. But the business pressures of running a label led to lead designer Susan Scarf pulling the pin in mid-2005.

Silkroad was founded in 1992 by designer Susan Scarf, who was joined by co-designers Rosie Morrow and in 2001 by Susan’s daughter Amy Tonkin.

Their small store in the Giffords Building on Vulcan Lane was scented with incense, and stocked a full range of womenswear, including jewellery designed by Amy. Marked by strong colour-blocking and bold graphic prints, the Silkroad look was admired by Miuccia Prada in 2000, who bought a number of garments. This was followed a few weeks later by Italian Vogue’s Anna Piaggi, whose influence prompted an invite to show at the Australian Fashion Week only a few weeks after her visit.

Renamed Susan Scarf in 2002 to avoid confusion with international labels of the same name, they appeared to go from strength to strength, but as the store closed permanently in 2005, Susan mused that she wanted to ‘be more creative and less of a businesswoman’. Their final collection was titled Phoenix: “We knew this would be the burning of everything. We didn’t know how it would turn out but we knew we were heading for radical change.”

Read more at www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/susan-scarf/

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