As catastrophe looms over the ancient city, which possessions will be valuable enough to save?
The year is AD 79, and as Mount Vesuvius begins to erupt, it sends a plume of ashes, pumice and rock into the sky causing the Pompeiians to flee in their droves. There is time to gather only a small handful of belongings and supplies; the residents must board the waiting ships and evacuate the city at once or become shrouded in the thick ash which rains from the skies. This pyroclastic cloud will soon swallow everything in its path; houses, market stalls, streets and amphitheaters are to be blanketed in molten rock. In their haste to escape the threat of certain doom, many citizens leave their animals behind to face the desperate situation alone, and the most careless among them leave their companions caged or chained with no hope of release. Thankfully, the animals in this story are wise enough to help themselves.
As the last overcrowded ship departs the shore, a small, ornate box of valuables slips from deck unnoticed, spilling its precious contents into the water. Coins, rings and amulets sink into the briny depths, entangling the sea creatures below and preventing their release from the increasingly warm shallows. The ducks spot this misfortune and swiftly dive in to assist their aquatic peers, untangling chains and releasing clasps until the captives are freed. The fish are grateful and offer up the coins as payment.
In the town centre, the first scorching ash begins to settle on an old greyhound’s back. He is chained to the doorway of his master’s villa, a large ornate padlock fixing him to the wall. He bites at the chain and tugs with all his might, but the metal is too strong, and he is becoming weak in the heat. As the dog begins to despair, a great heron flies from the waterside and comes to land gently beside him. In her beak she holds a glistening metal key, rescued from the fallen box by the flock of kindly ducks. The heron deftly fits the key to the lock and the greyhound is released. To show gratitude to his avian friends, he bounds into the house at once and fetches the master’s helpless caged birds, before setting off to the shoreline to find their escape.
Back at the water’s edge, several smaller wild animals are also seeking freedom from the imposing ash cloud overhead. As they pace the shallows fretfully, the ornate mosaic box fallen from the ship washes up at their feet. Now empty of its riches, save for a few gold coins, it is the perfect raft to safety. The animals fill the box with fruits and nuts for their long journey ahead, before climbing inside and closing the lid; this box now holds a far more precious cargo. With one gentle push from the greyhound, they glide out into the ocean and pray for salvation.
This collection references the beautiful artworks and artefacts uncovered during the excavation of the Italian city of Pompeii, and most especially, the preserved remains of a helpless chained guard dog. Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, covering the city in volcanic ash and preserving a unique snapshot of Roman life.
From the intricate stone mosaics and hand-painted frescoes to the ancient moulded coins and figurative jewellery, the beauty and symbolism of the Roman arts are astounding. While ruthless and barbaric in a number of ways, their creativity holds a delicacy and complexity which is rarely found in the modern world. The exquisite Roman Lod Mosaic uncovered in Israel is also referenced in this collection, alongside the architecture and artworks of ancient Rome and the written accounts of Pliny the Younger.
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.
We invite you to step into our Autumn/Winter 2020 campaign, The Treasures of Pompeii.
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.