From her studio in an historic Belgravia mews, artist, graphic designer, and collector, Darshana Shilpi Rouget has conceived Alba Amicorum as an incubator for wearable textile art. The medium is scarves, meticulously printed in limited editions - the result of collaborations with artists and artisans.
The force behind the brand, Darshana, has lived on three continents. Her desire to connect with artist friends around the world laid the foundation for what has become Alba Amicorum.
“Collaboration is at the core of the brand, inspired by the Renaissance practice of keeping a friendship book—album amicorum in Latin.”
Young men and women in 16th-century Europe would fill their alba amicorum with musings, illustrations and contributions from the influencers of their day. Such journals were used by German and Dutch students to record their educational journeys. As they travelled between universities, they took their albums with them, inviting other students and academics to contribute with inscriptions, artworks, poems, and profiles of places and people.
A cross between a scrapbook and an autograph album, these books have been described as an early form of social media, connecting friends separated by distance, reinforcing relationships, and showing off literary and artistic connections.
Channelling this spirit, our collaborations at Alba Amicorum liberate art from the frame and onto fluid fabric – to be worn, draped or wrapped in any way the wearer chooses. And like the Renaissance friendship books, the scarf becomes a personal means of communication.
“Each scarf is an artwork in its own right, its fluidity is perfect for draping, wrapping, folding or hanging – allowing each piece to become a very personal reflection of its owner”
Collaborating artists span different generations, cultural backgrounds, and media, and include the Man Ray Trust, painter Mary Jones, writer Ross Klavan, and photographer James T Murray.
Their work is translated onto the finest silks and cashmere by a skilled family of Italian artisans in Como, who print scarves for the fashion world’s most prestigious designers.
Each limited-edition piece is authenticated with a numbered certificate and packaged in a bespoke box made from wheat straw paper. We also offer gift presentation in a handmade, Japanese, Paulownia wood box.
Alba Amicorum’s atelier also represents original artworks and prints by collaborating visual and performing artists and artisans.
“My transnational background encourages me to bring together like-minded creatives, with Alba Amicorum providing a salon environment for nurturing a community of artists.
I wanted to do something where it is not about me, or the brand, but the artist. A studio of collaborators – which is the core of Alba Amicorum.
I believe in supporting artists if needed, like during Covid when artists’ shows were cancelled. We are mutually supportive of Alba Amicorum.
Our collaboration is about art and passion. It is an amazing group of people to work with. We make each other happy”.
Our Alba Amicorum atelier is located in Belgravia. It’s a light-filled building and was previously the studio of Viola Pemberton Pigott, the Senior Restorer to the Royal Collection. In the tradition of the Renaissance artist's workshop, Alba Amicorum is both a physical and virtual space for artist, artisan, collaborator, and patron to meet.