This “Introducing” post is unbelievably overdue. I actually learned of the talented Karen Mabon when I judged Mulberry’s Brilliant Britain competition way back in 2012! Mabon’s brand was a fledgling dream at that point but, as you’re about to find out or perhaps already know, a lot has changed since then.
Bull in a China Shop Silk Scarf
Originally hailing from Black Isle in Scotland, Karen Mabon, studied at Edinburgh College of Art before heading down south to complete her education in the hallowed halls of London’s Royal College of Art. After graduating she cut her industry teeth working for the likes of Margaret Howell and Fred Butler until 2012 when Mabon decided to go it alone and launching her eponymous line of silk scarves and handmade jewellery. I doubt I need to tell you that independent accessories labels are ten a penny these days. Some demand prices that would make an Olsen twin blanche, others come in more at the pocket change end of the scale. Some supply wares so gorgeous you’d flog your grandmother to own them, others are essentially market stall tat. Basically, there are a LOT of accessory start ups around with more starting up by the minute. You have to be offering something pretty special to stand out from the crowd. Karen Mabon is doing just that.
Beverly Hills Hotel Silk Scarf
Calling on a smörgåsbord of references, from pop culture and the artists that inspire her, to quintessential English pastimes and subjects so unbelievably ordinary their existence probably never even crosses your mind; Mabon’s work is a delicious fusion of eclecticism, detail and wit. One scarf might see Tippi Hendren fleeing from a flock of seagulls, another a vegetable patch being ransacked by rabbits, another a traditional British seaside holiday scene. When depicted on accessories (or any garments for that matter) poetic and traditional scenes run the risk of looking overdone or dowdy, while tongue-in-cheek designs can easily slip into novelty territory. If this was the case with Karen Mabon’s work, I wouldn’t be writing this post. Between the all encompassing array of influences she employs, and their playful yet intricately constructed depiction, Mabon toes the line between nostalgia and modernity just perfectly. These accessories are fun – who’s not going to crack a smile with Panthers at a party parading around their neck? – but not naff, not by a long shot. This is no doubt helped by the design process involved in the creation of each piece, a feat as impressive as the fact Karen Mabon’s managed to carve a niche for herself within the overcrowded accessories market. Each motif is constructed from layers of hand drawn images. Rather than using a repeated print, each design is a complete and individual composition, holding a distinct narrative and realised on the finest Italian silks and cashmeres. The jewellery pieces feature individual motifs from Mabon’s painstakingly created scarves, offering the kind of mix and/or match potential I’m an absolute sucker for.
Midnight Feast Silk Scarf
Karen Mabon set out create pieces that captured the “romance of the everyday” and her quirky play on the mundanities of life does so beautifully. And judging from the fact her wares are now stocked everywhere from Liberty of London to the National Maritime Museum to Strumpet in New York and The Beauty Candy Apothecary in Singapore, I’m not the only person who thinks that! I’m currently coveting the Beverley Hills Hotel scarf like mad but frankly, they’re all must haves. Oh and not stupidly expensive either (think £85 to £110) yay!
Love Ella. X