The Mad Silkman
Zika and Lida Ascher Textiles and Fashion

By Konstantina Hlavácová, with the support of Peter Ascher
Includes over 300 colour and b&w illustrations
Lavishly produced by Slovart Publishing

The Mad Silkman: Zika & Lida Ascher Textiles and Fashion traces the story of the husband and wife who set up one of the most influential and prestigious fine textile design firms of the 20th Century. Their personal and professional lives played out against the dramatic history of the 20th Century and despite having to flee their native Czechoslovakia in 1939, they were able to build a highly successful fashion fabrics enterprise in London where they settled.

The challenge

Zika Ascher’s creations tower high over the history of textiles, however, even if he collaborated closely with many exclusive fashion houses including Dior, Yves St Laurent, Pierre Cardin and David Sassoon, his name was largely unknown by the fashion/ lifestyle media world. Moreover, the fashion desks are primarily interested in news (and not history). Lastly, some of the most coveted pictures in the book (like the ones showing the British Royal family wearing Zika’s stunning fabrics) were under strict copyright and a newspaper decided against paying the hefty fee requested by the picture agency.

The solution

I devised a variety of ‘feature angles’ aimed at some special interest magazines with a wide readership. For example, Zika’s Jewish heritage was the basis for a two-page article in the Jewish Chronicle (the UK’s leading Jewish community’s weekly) and the uniquely original fabrics were the basis for a review in Condé Nast’s title, ‘The World of Interiors’, who boasts a faithful following on a global scale. In addition, I found some appealing images whose copyright resided with Peter Ascher, Zika and Lida’s son (based in the USA) who oversees the Estate. Also, I did all I could to contact Institutions, such as the Henry Moore Foundation, persuading them to give us the right to reproduce the photographs they own for free.

The result

As above, the Jewish Chronicle run a long feature with many catchy illustrations; the book was also reviewed in the prestigious The World of Interiors (ABC circ. 55K+) and in the digital edition of Tatler magazine (MUVs 361,663 — the article was rightly titled: ‘The most beautiful picture books to buy’). Leading art monthly, The Burlington magazine, published a review, and the industry media such as Textiles (Institute of Textiles) and the highly sophisticated Cover (Hali Publications) also paid homage to Ascher’s creative genius and to his refined print-fabric creations.