French Fauvist, Modernist and Impressionist Henri Matisse was renowned in the art world as a master of many styles as well as a master of many mediums. In addition to the oil on canvas paintings that he created and which we celebrate on this site, Matisse was a highly accomplished draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor who was able to impart the same themes and styling into his work, regardless of the medium. We’ve previously looked into his paper cut out phase that was the main focus of an exhibition in England this year. Last week we went into detail about the groundbreaking exhibition of his drawings in Australia. And we’ve heard about his iconic sculptures, The Back Series, being auctioned off individually by Sotheby’s in the States. However it was Matisse’s involvement in the creation of art in another medium, which was setting records over the summer earlier this year, although you may not have head much about it in the mainstream media.

The medium in question is fabrics and textiles – so often ignored or overlooked as a field of appreciation in fine arts – and the item in question was a scarf that was created by Matisse back in 1946. The creation of the scarf was the result of design collaboration between Matisse and luxury London scarf brand, Ascher, and when the scarf was auctioned by Christie’s in London this summer, it ended up being sold for £3 million ($4.8 million). Yes, you heard right. $4.8 million for a scarf. A Matisse scarf though it may be, that’s still an awful lot of money to spend on decorating your neck. So how did the world’s most expensive scarf come into creation? Well, in 1943 Zika Ascher, the founder of the Ascher brand, travelled to Paris with the aim of getting prominent members of the French artistic community to create custom designs for his label. He managed to convince Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and other contemporary French artists to contribute to the project. Fashion magazines at the time said of the exclusive scarves, “They will be the centre of a costume, like a fine jewel”.

The Matisse scarf, officially labelled as a ‘wall panel’, features a print with abstract images of sea creatures that is thought to have been inspired by Matisse’s 1940 trip to Tahiti. The woven linen was titled Oceanie, La Mer and was produced in a limited run of 30, although the scarf that was sold is rumoured to have once hung in Matisse’s Paris studio. Sam Ascher, the grandson of founder Zika and the brand’s current creative director, said that the sale was a testament to the originality of the project, and is hopeful that Ascher’s modern artist collaborations will one day be held in the same esteem. He said, “It makes me very proud that the concept and the collaborations originated by my grandfather are still treasured today. The line between fashion and art is a question of continual and endless debate, however in this case I think there is little room for argument. The original project achieved its success by remaining devoid of commercialism, if we can achieve a fraction of this success in the collaborations we are currently planning we will be extremely happy.”