March 24, 2019

This Photographer’s Life Experiences Led Her to Launch a Scarf Brand

Dutch photographer turned fashion designer, Odette Denijs’ new scarf brand AUDEE, is born of the life-changing experiences that she encountered during her stay in Jordan. With AUDEE, Denijs is reinventing the classic silk-scarf while aiming to incorporate abstract imagery and slow and conscious fashion into people’s lives. The scarves are made of a 100% sustainable silk and will have limited editions of only 10 styles selling in a year. The two currently launched are of the styles, “Blue” and “Poppies” and a third, called “Pastel” is due to launch mid-April.We speak to Denijs on the experiences that inspired the creation of AUDEE, and what her scarf brand is all about.

Credit: Color Me Lurid for AUDEE

What in particular struck a chord with you during your mission work in Jordan?
Mid-September 2014 I traveled to Jordan together with a group of wonderful musicians and artists, as part of Syrious Mission. Syrious Mission is a Dutch organization operating in Jordan, connecting Syrian urban refugees and the local community through music and creativity, active from 2013 till 2017. Syrious Mission worked together with partner organizations such as WarChild UK, and UNRWA.We traveled to Jordan in order to organize musical and creative workshops for Syrian refugee children, in which kids express their emotions and stories through music and creativity. I had the honor to be teaching photography to Syrian refugee children in the border region of Jordan, in which the kids could tell their own stories in images. What struck me the most was the power of creativity as a tool to connect with their inner-awareness, to express themselves and to tell their own story in images and songs and to really be children again.There was this one boy that attended my photography workshop, Ahmed, he was so extremely talented and also very shy. He really started shining as soon as he was holding his camera. He really stood out and loved playing with perspective and composition and opened up.One of my colleagues was teaching music. Music is such a powerful tool to express yourself in a safe way. For instance, there was a Syrian girl attending the music workshops in Za’atari in Jordan who hadn’t spoken for months. She also avoided eye contact. After five days of making music, she stood at the front singing. That’s how powerful music can be.Can you share with us an experience that really changed your perspective?
Back home in Amsterdam, I organized an exhibition together with another photographer who also had been to Jordan together with Syrious Mission, Laura Andalou, showing a selection of the images shot by the children, along with pictures that we took ourselves.Many visitors were surprised by the positivity and playfulness expressed through the images shot by the children. It reminded them of their own children or their little brothers and sisters, playing with each other and having fun. We are so used to seeing negative and sad imagery in the news of children who grow up in war zones – images that are unfortunately telling a sad truth – that it becomes difficult to identify ourselves with the lives of others who are living in conflict.We almost forget that these children are, in fact, like our own children. Children who deserve love no matter what and who also want to play with their friends. Love and positivity connect, while negativity and hate alienate.

Credit: Color Me Lurid for AUDEE

What did the children love most about their photography lessons?
To have their own camera and to photograph whatever they wanted to express. And of course, selfies. Most of the children loved taking selfies.Why did you decide to launch a scarf company?
When I was Jordan working with the children, a little voice at the back of my mind persisted in asking; ‘Why do you take photos? What’s the story you’re trying to tell? Is this how you want to do it?’.After some time questioning my motives, I had a revelation when I was speaking at one of my solo exhibitions. When asked why I do what I do, I responded: ‘To surprise myself and others, to wonder,’ something that hadn’t been clear to me until I said it aloud… I knew I loved creating images, but I needed to find a way to use my photography that was both creative and practical, while allowing me to maintain my curiosity, to play and discover. That is when the idea was born to take my photography forward in a new and exciting way and to start my own silk scarf company.Read Next: Aquazurra’s Collaboration with This Lebanese Designer Is Perfect for Your Summer Vacation