Friday, June 12, 2015

Frankie Welch's Cherokee Alphabet Scarf

One of the museum's latest acquisitions is a "Cherokee Alphabet Scarf"(1970) by the American fashion designer Frankie Welch, who was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, and attended the University of Georgia before moving to Alexandria, Virginia with her husband. There she opened up a fashion boutique in the historic Duvell House. Welch's iconic designs include a type of wrap dress known as the "Frankie" and over 4,000 unique scarves created for various organizations, politicians, and corporations. Her "Cherokee Alphabet Scarf" is her most famous scarf design. It features the Cherokee syllabary created by Sequoyah in a nod to her Cherokee ancestors and her Georgia heritage. Since many famous and well-connected women shopped at Welch's Alexandria boutique, including several First Ladies, her design quickly became famous, not only in the United States, but also overseas, and was even featured in an advertising campaign for high-end liquor. With the success of this scarf, Welch's career and prestige as a designer was established, and she quickly became the favored designer for Washington high society, political parties and corporations. Despite her success, Welch never forgot her Georgia roots, returning to UGA in 1982 to give a presentation on fashion design and to donate samples of her life's work to the university, which can still be found today in the Hargrett Manuscript Collection, located in the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries.
Courtesy of the Valdosta Museum 

The "Cherokee Alphabet Scarf" in our collection will be exhibited this upcoming January along with a group of Cherokee baskets here at the Georgia Museum of Art. 

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