To pass into the world of Sencha & Bourbon is to enter into a palette of colors, global cultures and collaborative desires. Brought to life by Paola, this brand of scarves and other naturally dyed textiles was born between Paris and San Francisco. « I made my first vegetable dye projects when I was a student at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in Paris. One night I gathered the spices and teas and coffees in my kitchen and mixed them into some salted, boiling water. The next day, I was surprised and delighted to see dozens of different colors, most unexpected and surprising, before me. »
With soft, muffled tints, the subtlety of the natural colors of Sencha & Bourbon vibrates from shades of flesh to pale sea greens. To give birth to these signature hues, Paola uses coffee, turmeric, « whose color varies from one hour to the next, from mustard yellow to chick yellow, » annatto seeds [editor’s note: flora of tropical American with pink flowers and red fruits] that give « an orange so vibrant that nobody would guess it came from a natural dye, » and Japanese matcha [editor’s note: finely powdered green tea] for celadons and glassy sea greens.
These ingredients come from across the globe. They are souvenirs of travel, of encounter, of somebody dear, and sometimes simply friendly gifts. « I use Russian indigo because it reminds me of somebody whom I love; a friend brought me hibiscus flowers from Benin; my mother recently sent annatto from Guadeloupe. »
The methods of dyeing are rudimentary, using hot, super-salinated water so the dye penetrates and remains after rinsing. For ombré effects, nothing is calculated or meticulous. « First I plunge the fabric into water without dye, to open the fibers. Little by little, I add the color, without checking on where I am because that part is instinctive. » It is this very incertitude that pushes the desire to create for Paola.
These natural pigments necessitate expression on fabrics that, likewise, are respectful of the environment. « I use raw silk, notably, produced by a group of Istanbul women undergoing social reinsertion, bamboo viscose from France, and Portuguese cashmere. In all cases, I prefer building a relationship in trust with a producer rather than remaining loyal to some label that is never fully satisfying from A to Z. »
Each Sencha & Bourbon scarf is personalized by Paola with the initials or first name of the person to whom it is destined, « so that the scarf becomes an object of attachment, almost an extension of the skin and a guardian against overconsumption. » All in all, a show of careful savoir-faire with humankind and the environment.
Photo Credits: Sencha & Bourbon