Scarves, Silk Ambassadors of Albania 

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By Rudina HOXHA 

Her scarves are famous in Albania and in the world. Foreigners learn from them about Albania, its history, nature, traditions and customs. They hold the firm of triQita, a brand she created about 16 years ago. She is Natasha Korn. 

Natasha and me STAR PEOPLE to explain allWhathas about her business which promotes Albania all over the world through SILK GIFTS from ALBANIA (Silk Gifts from Albania) while she likes to respond to the growing demands for her products with new designs and new places.

Why did you choose scarves full of art?

Each scarf is a useful piece of art for decoration. It has a carefully designed composition, attractive colors and harmonious symmetry. The scarf is art that moves around you, or enlivens the walls. It is the most democratic and exciting art of all. I like to create my own scarves, - many different types of scarves can be created with any color change or watermark added and I know that every time someone puts them on, they complement my artistic work in every twist or unfolding of the scarf . The difference between my scarf and any other type of scarf is that mine not only adorn but also tell stories about their patterns. My scarves not only adorn and educate but also create a sense of pride and love for the very fact of mastering the beauty of the cultural and natural heritage which is reflected in the pattern and history of each scarf. 

 How it all startedWhatis there for you?

triQita is a family team: my husband Lowell Lander, my son Vladi Korn and me. We named our brand Triqita which means Three Dolphins. In mythology, the Three Dolphins hold the entire universe. Figuratively, the Three Dolphins are the pillars of everything that needs to be sustained. We are the three pillars of our brand. Find an object that stimulates my interest, realize the model, and write the story. My husband takes pictures of the object that interests me while my son makes small videos with my scarves. We believe that: 1. Beauty never goes out of style. 2. We can help people discover beauty. 3. Discovering beauty enriches our lives. How do we accomplish this? Let’s take an example: We have a beautiful bridal cape from Mirdita. It's heavy and out of fashion today. Thus we transform her beauty into a model for a classic silk scarf full of style. We make unique packaging for it and print a story about Mirdita. We bring this old world beauty out of museum walls into the light, turning it into a modern fashion accessory and disseminating our knowledge about the origins, beliefs, history and aesthetics of our models. Thus the beauty of the old world is preserved and revived. Turns to new art and new fashion. It enriches our lives and inspires our creativity. 

The seeds of Unique Silk Gifts were sown in 2003 when my husband came to Tirana for the first time. One of the most interesting features of Tirana at that time were the old buildings of the communist period, which the Mayor of that time, Mr. Edi Rama, who is the Prime Minister of Albania today, used as canvas for brilliant abstract paintings. He was an artist and used his position and skills to transform Tirana into one of the largest free outdoor exhibitions of abstract expressionism in the world. My husband decided to document these painted buildings in pictures. He then cut out the photos in Photoshop and remodeled the pieces to create his own harmonious images of each building. In October 2005, these images were exhibited in our personal exhibition Tirana + Rama = Tirana, at the National Gallery of Arts in Tirana. I was not making scarves or ties at the time, but I presented in this exhibition bikini with designs from painted buildings. Within a month, I was converting the painted buildings into designs for silk ties and scarves which were first appreciated by the Mayor himself. It was our first collection of fashion accessories - Tirana Style. Some of them decorate the walls of Hotel Mak Albania (former Sheratoni Hotel Tirana.)

We did not think that what we were doing was preserving this colorful page of Tirana's history for the future. Today, almost 15 years later, when the colors of the buildings have faded and some of the buildings have disappeared, we have them all stored in our ties, scarves and photos and we are ready for a new exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Tirana that will to be celebrated in February 2020. 

Since we first launched our triQita project, we have traveled to many countries and cultures turning objects that have impressed us into new designs for our collection - Luxury Gifts with their Stories and Myths. .) But living in Albania for several years and learning about the history, art and culture of Albania and having Albanian friends, we discovered many beautiful, interesting artifacts and in many cases hidden and even abandoned in Albania. So we enjoyed telling about them through Luxury Gifts from Albania. 

Our goal is to create uniquely beautiful, high quality and unique gifts. We want our designs to be a pleasure to put and donate, easy to hold and send and we want people to learn through their diverse cultural and natural heritage and tell these stories to other people. In fact, my friends and clients have told me that they have learned about Albanian customs and traditions from the stories of my scarves.

In the Albanian Heritage Collection, for example, we have scarves and ties: Butrint Mosaics (Butrint Mosaics) (http://www.triqita.com/#!gifts-from-butrint/c14op) designed from ancient mosaics at the Butrint site preserved by UNESCOs.
Beauty of Durrës (Beauty of Durrës) (http://www.triqita.com/#!gifts-from-durres/c9au) from the ancient mosaic of Durrës; The Codex of Berat from the decorative illustrations in the Codexes of Albania which are Byzantine and Post Byzantine books of the year 119 or fragments of books that cover the historical period from the 6th century to the end of the 19th century. (http://www.triqita.com/#!codeces/c1x18).

What are the stages of making a perfect scarf that bears the signature of triQita?

It all starts with an impressive image. Most folk art is impressive and a harmony of colors and complexities and meaningful embellishments. Our first collection - Tirana Style - started with the wonderful images of newly painted abstract designs in the buildings of Tirana. The painting was appearing before our eyes in 2005 giving a new look to Tirana. Our collection, Heritage of Albania, started at the request of a client. Suela Tuci asked me to design a scarf as a special gift for a person from Mirdita. She sent me a photo of a wedding cape from Mirdita and so she opened for me a door to the wealth of Albanian folk costumes. Since then I have enjoyed great support from the private collectors of Albanian folk costumes, Linda Spahiu and Luljeta Dano. Thanks to them, I managed to have images of the unique costumes of their collections and what is absolutely invaluable, the pleasure and honor of being their friend. They have wonderfully shared with me their knowledge about Albanian costumes, culture and traditions. Aferdita Onuzi made my dream of Hasi colors come true and finally, she showed me some of Hasi designs from her latest album. I hope to surprise her with my new design, inspired by her love for Has. 

There is a design in my collections that started from a wonderful story and only later, I found an image that tells this story. All my scarves and ties with the name David Stars tell the story of another unique side of Albania - that of the rescue of Jews during World War II. 

Your designs are bold models full of strong colors. What inspired you to reflect Albanian cities in your scarves and products?

My designs are a reflection of what I see. If they are bold and bright, it means that the source of inspiration was such: bold and bright. What is bolder and brighter than Albanian Socks (thick traditional wool socks)? I have two scarves and a tie designed from two different sock models. Scarves look bold and solid colors, but the tie looks very classic and elegant. 

I do not add any details to the images of Albanian cities which I converted into models for scarves. I organize them in a different way so cities stay recognizable by the elements of their unique colors and architecture. Everything that my eyes like in Albania, I put in the design for my scarves and ties. I believe that this love I have for what I see helps me do something that people want to wear. Also, I believe that people from the city of Berat would like to make a very special gift from their very special city and this is true for every city or region of Albania. Berat, Gjirokastra, Korça, Butrinti, Dibra, Mirdita, Durrës, Shkodra, Çamëria, Gorani, Tirana, Pogradec, Skrapar are the places painted in the designs of my scarves, ties and stories. People like to use them as gifts from their hometowns and I like to respond to this request with new designs and new places. 

What memories do scarves with Albanian motifs bring to you?

Usually my scarves and ties have two stories - a story printed on the gift wrapping for the scarf or tie and always a story related to a certain person or certain people, which you might call the story behind the scenes. I put some of these stories on my website: https://www.triqita.com/gifts-for-you-only, some others on my Facebook page under the name Natasha Triqita and some others are waiting to be shown. When I look at my Butrint Mosaic scarves and ties, I remember Mr. Neritan Ceka who gave me some of the images. When I look at the scarf "Happy Berat" (Happy Berat), I think of the beautiful exhibition "Special Art by Special People", organized by the Vodafone Foundation and I remember my good friend, Albi Greva. When I look at my Crab Zodiac scarf from the "For Zodiac Lovers" collection, my mind goes to my dearest friend, Alma Varfi, who changed my life when we met and changed it again when she left forever. 

What is the scarf that brings you the most memories that you have given to an Albanian personality or friend? 

For the 100th anniversary of Albania's Independence, I designed a tie where I used the photo of the Albanian Flag. Here I introduced the former Ambassador of Israel to Albania, Mr. David Cohen. He has retired since then but recently, in his chronological photos on his Facebook, to my delight and pride, he had posted a photo with my tie with the Albanian Flag. 

What is the next project for triQita?

triQita has sold to the British Museum in London six designs of scarves from our collection Silk Road to Albania. 

triQita brought beautiful videos with her scarves with Albanian motifs to the COIN Store in Tirana. 

triQita is now a family brand with one more person, who joined the family and who plays in the scarf videos in the latest video "Mirdita Albania" ((https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4uamBY_uYk Thus we continue to build not only the Silk Road to Albania but also a Video of the Road to Albania. 

I believe that one day the ethnographic department, promised long ago, in the National Historical Museum or even the Ethnographic Museum of Tirana will be opened and that the hidden treasures of Albanian folk art, carefully preserved in the Institute of Albanology, will be available for their new lives like scarves, ties and new stories.

We are happy that there is so much beauty in the hidden world and not too much hidden that will be enough to keep us busy with dealing with Unique Silk Gifts even for many more years. If you have in mind an item you want to convert into a unique gift of yours, contact me at the email address: [email protected]

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