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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bored of War? Try the Semaphore.


We wrote recently about the prayer scarf craze that was sweeping the stores. Seems like prayers aren't the only things in demand: anything that puts the brakes on this mad, mad, mad, mad world seems decidedly "in." The latest resurrection is an classic: the peace symbol, which began its life not quite how many Americans remember.

Turn back the clock to a chilly, gray Good Friday 1958 and English protesters were marching on Aldermaston, the countryside farm town where Britain built its nuclear weapons. Gerald Holtom, a designer and artist, convinced the Direct Action Committee (DAC) against Nuclear War's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to brand their protest with a visual symbol. Bearing in mind Goya's Spanish rebels and merging the semaphore initials for "N"uclear "D"isarmament, the well-known symbol was born. New life was breathed into the symbol when it became the standard for protest in America during the Viet Nam War.

With conflict and disaster seemingly de rigueur, it is only appropriate that this old chestnut becomes again au courant. The Raj peace sign scarves have an all-over peace pattern on sheer fabric. Wear them on mild days over basic colors for a visual pop and billowy silhouette. And some big sunglasses, as big as you can get. The scarf is easily one of your most important and versatile wardrobe accessories. We recommend spending some time on the knotting; Europeans get this.

(You will absolutely drive us to tears if you buy this scarf and wrap it around your neck like you are half-hitching a horse to the post. Display this scarf proudly. Let it rope and flow around your shoulders. A good scarf knot defines your look and edges your chin and jawline, highlights your neck and shoulders, and visually ties together your whole ensemble. Let it carry your wardrobe. Match it to your shoes or purposefully mismatch it to be achingly fashionable.)

The peace sign has also been cropping up in rings, necklaces and bags. We're wondering if the Bush Administration's warmongering isn't helping push fashion into a hippie chic revival as a generation after X starts to care again about how we are conducting ourselves in the world. Look for smiley faces, vibrant colors (if not tie-dye ... please) and other Age of Aquarius motifs to surface throughout summer.


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