This silk scarf features Harlem Toile de Jouy by the celebrated New York City–based interior designer Sheila Bridges. This timeless accessory honors Bridges's stylish mother, who loved to wear colorful scarves from museum stores.
Bridges's contemporary vision of 18th-century toile—a classic French fabric abounding with pastoral imagery—is inspired by archival maps of Harlem, which was settled by the Dutch in 1658. It simultaneously riffs on old stereotypes: women styling hair, men playing basketball, girls enjoying a round of Double Dutch. This celebration of rich and diverse traditions presents a speculative contemporary home for the imagined residents of a present-day Seneca Village, the 19th Century community of African Americans in this area of Manhattan that was demolished to make way for Central Park. The motif originates from Bridges's tenacious search for an existing toile suited to her sensibility as a decorator and her perspective upon history, politics, and culture as an African American woman living in Harlem.