When we met the fashion dynamo and cult designer Marine Serre recently at the launch of her Spring/Summer ’18 collection at Dover Street Market Singapore, we were distracted by an item she had on.

It wasn’t how the petite designer looked like a really cool fashion Cyclops in her Oakley-style shades. Or the fact that her bright red jeans + white T-shirt attire seems like an uncanny nod to our national colours (a link that doesn’t seem far-fetched when you consider how the crescent moon is a symbol for her fledgeling label).

Marine Serre at Dover Street Market Singapore.

Rather it was a beguiling accessory Serre was holding on. It looked like a bowling ball that’s wrapped in a coral and fuchsia scarf. Is it a weapon? Is it a toy? This is what we do know: It was the same item that her models wore during the F/W ’18 show earlier in February.

Serre, a former Balenciaga alumna, volunteered to show us exactly what it is she was carrying. Like some sort of street performer, she laid the item on the store’s concrete floor, untied the scarf on the floor,  and revealed – voila – a spherical vinyl bag. The scarves she says are sourced and upcycled from all over the world by her team.

Models looked like they were carrying giant bowling balls wrapped in silk scarves during Marine Serre’s F/W ’18 show in Paris.

Who doesn’t love a bag that checks the sustainability box and falls nicely into the folksy-slash-rustic movement that is sweeping the bag design world right now? Plus, the last time we checked, tying your bag handles in silk scarves is such an old-fashioned idea.

That anecdote is just the tip of the big scarf trend that’s already begun in Pre-fall and will reach a high point when the Fall/Winter ’18 season rolls. Elsewhere, designers are reworking the idea of a scarf of being merely a flourish or accent to your get-up to something that could change up your style game. We show the different ways the brands have interpreted this idea.

#1: On ready-to-wear

As a luxury house synonymous for its luxurious silk carres, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Hermes’  still churns out some of the most beautiful scarf designs around. For Pre-fall, that idea is seen on a leather skirt that features pleats of leather and silk scarf and a shirt dress.

Meanwhile, up-and-coming British designer Richard Quinn is proving to be quite the latter-day Demna Gvasalia with his oversized silhouettes, deconstruction techniques and knack for tacky and retro prints. Quinn’s hand-drawn patterns of old English roses and retro wallpaper motifs are created by his in-house team and give the effect of mashing these prints up as patchwork creates the illusion of the models wearing a  melange of scarves taped to their bodies.

Elsewhere, the theme of wearing silk scarf prints continue at MSGM and Salvatore Ferragamo. The latter turns to its storied archives and translated its old scarf prints onto handsome and sophisticated Mod-inflected designs.

Celine’s interim design team showed a decent collection post the Phoebe Philo-era, with frocks that pay homage to the scarf. One dress is made up of a patchwork of headscarves, while another looks as though the model is dressed in one giant knotted foulard.

#2: As the babushka’s headpiece

Not to be confused with the babouche, the heelless slippers traditionally worn by Moroccan women. This term originates from the Russian word for “grandmother” – the women who are best known for wearing silk headscarves that are simply knotted under the chin.

(From left) Versace, Gucci, Acne Studios

The other famous female known for her love of this style is Queen Elizabeth who has been pulling off the style since her younger days, teaming it with everything from Macintosh coats, tweed blazers and capes For F/W ’18, the babushka scarf gives a certain dignified presence to brands such as Acne Studios, Versace and Gucci.

#3: As a headscarf

Fall/Winter ’18 is possibly Gucci’s most controversial outing by Alessandro Michele. He has been accused by critics of major cultural appropriation. During the show, some models were seen donning what is a familiar head garb worn by women in this part of the world (psst, say “tudung”).

The brand’s stand on the issue is clear: The show is an amalgamation of different cultures and references that we confront in our daily lives. But while some camps highlight the hypocrisy of a fashion brand riding on a garment that faces stigma in public, it’s also best to remember that this type of headscarves are traditionally the most exuberant and come in the most flamboyant designs. So what better item to showcase the most dramatic scarf designs?

The tudung issue at Gucci.