Chaos and commotion collide at an exotic souk in Persepolis.

As the sun begins to set over the ancient city of Persepolis, it casts a golden glow across the patchworked rooftops of the souk. Cockatiels and wild birds squabble and sing overhead, their cries drowned out by the vibrant hum from the streets below them. The air is heavy and hazy with powdered spices and dyes, and the potent sounds of the market fill every cavity. From carpets and baskets to lanterns and silverware, shoes and hats to herbs and dried fruits, everything is available from the bustling bazaar. Yet, in the midst of the market, a small, unassuming tent contains the most vaulable commodity of all: exotic and untamed animals. Once captured for their power and prowess, they now lay tethered to the ground, weak and listless in the heat, their spirits broken by the hardship they have suffered at the hands of mankind.

Seeing the plight of their fellow creatures while they themselves still roam free, two courageous street dogs can take the sorry sight no longer, and they daringly sneak into the tent with a plan. While one distracts the market seller, the other dashes the keys from his belt with one swift nip. Masters of evading capture, the street dogs toss the keys between them while leading the angry seller on a merry dance around the souk. They skilfully lose him in the commotion, and rush back to the tent to unlock their comrades. The magnificent leopard slowly realises his freedom, and like a balloon filling with air, the life and vibrancy surge back into his body. With a wink to his emancipators, he launches himself into the streets, tearing through market stalls and slashing at tents as he goes. Explosions of colour punctuate the sky as he tosses pots of powdered spices and pigment dyes into the air. As the mischievous street dogs continue their quest, they release the great ostrich from his ties, making sure to stand well back once he is free. The ostrich bends down to earnestly thank his new friends with a swift nod of the head, scuffs his foot in preparation and bursts from the tent in an eruption of feathers. He hurtles down the path, weaving and lacing his way between stalls, smashing glass and crashing silverware as he goes. By this time, the wily street dogs are nowhere to be found. Delighted with their success, but not free of danger, they may also have found several powerful allies when they need them most.

As he absent-mindedly operates the pulley system, the young warden is distracted and tired. The iron-barred doors begin to creak and raise, and before he can fathom his mistake, all the beasts of The Tower are released. A cacophony of excited cries and shrieks rings out, reverberating around the stone courtyard. The warden swiftly flees, fearing the animal’s wrath for their years of misery at the hands of The Crown. The King’s lion lets out an almighty roar, before setting off over the cobbles at quite a pace, lashing out at any object in his path. He is closely pursued by the tigress, bewildered and confused, but ecstatic and elated to be free. The zebra is a little more cautious in her approach; She gently steps out of her enclosure, sniffing and pawing at the ground. The reason for her apprehension becomes apparent when, from behind her flank, a set of unsteady, spindly legs appear. She has a foal in tow, and she knows this release may be his only chance of safety.  With a toss of the head and a flick of the tail, she bravely leads her young into the unknown. Above their heads, bursting forth from the aviary, the parrots sing and squabble. Confined to their enclosure for many years since their capture, they have been too cramped to fly or even fully stretch out. Now, they swoop and twirl about in sheer joy at their situation, calling to those too afraid to leave their stalls. Their jewel colours glimmer and shine, and they fly low through the passages of The Tower, seeking their escape. The beasts of the menagerie follow the parrots’ song and are lead dancing through the halls to The Jewel House. They crash their way through the precious artefacts, gathering adornments as they twist and twirl, out through Traitor’s Gate and on into the parks of London town.

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Inspiration

This collection references the art and artefacts of ancient Persia, drawing on the rich, jewel-like colour palettes, the intricate details and the beautiful craftsmanship of the region. Hand-knotted Persian rugs, carved and painted tile work, embroidered and tasseled fabrics and complex metalwork were all influences when creating this work. Items from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum also played a large part, alongside the painted works of Horace Vernet and delicate Persian miniatures.

Process

View the collection illustrations in progress, and see how the drawings transform into detailed and intricate scarf designs. Sabina creates a story for each collection, as shown below, which is then illustrated and narrated through her elaborate handiwork.

The Campaign

Welcome to our our Autumn / Winter 2019 Campaign, Persian Pandemonium.

Photographer: Kurtiss Lloyd

Shop the Collection

A range of beautiful fabrics are available for each design, from classic silk twill to our sumptuous signature wool and silk blend. Each piece is printed and hand finished by the renowned artisans of Como, Italy.

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