Tuareg Chic

What's the link between European high fashion and the Tuareg, a semi-nomadic Berber group from Saharan Africa? A new exhibition at the National Museum of African Art highlights the story. In 1998, French entrepreneur Jean-Yves Brizot formed a Tuareg silver guild in Agadez, Niger. The jewelry caught the eye of Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, the Parisian design house. Voilà! Tuareg clasps and necklaces began appearing as motifs in Hermès silk scarves. "Tuareg art has a graphic appeal that would be attractive to high-end fashion designers," says the museum's Christine Kreamer. And exhibition co-organizer Tom Seligman of Stanford's Cantor Center for Visual Arts says the scarves, in turn, have raised awareness of Tuareg designs.

Get the latest Travel & Culture stories in your inbox.