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Rawaan Alkhatib Plays Scarf Show & Tell

A half dozen crazy-good creations.

“I started making scarves because I really like the idea of taking a flat surface that becomes more complex as your drape it. When you’re wearing a scarf, you never see the whole design—you have to conceive a fractured pattern, which is a lot like writing a poem,” explains Rawaan Alkhatib, who—what do you know?—has an MFA in poetry.  Below, the very talented lady puts some of her design processes to words. —alisha prakash

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“I doodle a lot at poetry readings—it helps me concentrate on what I’m hearing. Occasionally, I draw things that make their way into prints, like these guys, who became the Candyfighters.”

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“The Dinoflowers print started out as two separate sets of drawings in my sketchbook—pen-and-ink dinosaurs and floral watercolors. I’d been thinking about how dumb it is that children’s stuff gets so gendered—dinosaurs and flowers are equally awesome—so I combined them digitally to make what I thought might be good wallpaper for a child’s bedroom. Then I decided that I wanted to wear it.”

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“The Aliki scarf came straight from a painting I did of some flamingo feathers. It’s the most untouched of all the scarves—no digital messing around at all, just scanned.”

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“Festina Lente was one of the first scarves I made. It was for my mum, who’s obsessed with turtles—our house in Dubai is filled with tiny turtle figurines. One day, my mum called to tell me that my dad had gone to the beach, and came across a dying sea turtle, whose shell was encrusted with something gross and hard. He brought it home, and they bought it an inflatable kiddie pool and brought buckets of seawater to fill up the pool every day. They fed him lettuce. They also picked all the parasites off the turtle’s shell, and named him Survivor. He died but lived six weeks longer than he would have on his own, so there’s that. It seemed worth commemorating somehow.”

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“The flower print on the Floral Blizzard scarf is from a painted scrap that’s a couple of years old, but it was only a couple of months ago that I understood how to use it for this scarf. My personal crest should come with the motto ‘when in doubt, add polka dots.’”

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“The cheetah was originally part of a series of paintings I started shortly before leaving Dubai for Iowa. I was going to poetry school, which freaked me out, and instead of spending the months leading up to it reading and writing, I spent them staying up until the wee hours of the morning obsessively painting tiny gouache animals. Also, this scarf for Of a Kind is on cotton, not silk—a departure from the norm. It’s much bigger than the scarves I usually make. It’s so cozy, all those cheetahs wrapped around you, protecting you. I wear mine pretty much every day.”

These cheetahs are coming for you! Get your limited-edition scarf NOW.