Two-colour dress fabric sample of woven mohair, wool and nylon, made by Zika Ascher for Ascher Ltd., Great Britain, 1957.
Zika Ascher (3 April 1910 – 5 September 1992) was a Czech artist and designer, who became pre-eminent in the related fields of British textiles, art, and fashion. A 264 page book about his work, and that of his wife Lida Ascher, was written by Valerie Mendes (author and stepmother of Sam Mendes) and published by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, to coincide with a 1987 retrospective exhibition of the Aschers' work. The title Ascher: Fabric, Art, Fashion, describes the breadth of their achievements in these three related fields. Three photographic portraits of Zika Ascher are held in the collection at the National Portrait Gallery in London; two by John Gay and a third by Francis Goodman.Ascher was born in Prague, where he was a skiing champion prior to emigrating to London during World War II.A substantial number of Ascher textiles designed by the British artist Henry Moore are held in the V&A collection. The designs were commissioned by Zika Ascher from 1944–1946. The first collection of Henry Moore textiles printed by Ascher was introduced at the Dorchester Hotel in London in May 1945.The Henry Moore Foundation published a book by Anita Feldman and Sue Pritchard in 2009, entitled 'Henry Moore Textiles', which contains extensive references and examples of Ascher textiles designed by Henry Moore. The book was published to coincide with an exhibition at the Henry Moore Foundation in 2008, which later went on tour. The book was published by Lund Humphries, a leading publisher on British Art. Lund Humphries articleHis significant influence on the collections of major couturiers, such as Christian Dior, Cristobel Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, is cited in the Vogue History of Twentieth Century Fashion by Jane Mulvagh ( Viking Penguin, London 1988). Christian Dior referred to Mr Ascher as 'Mr Rose Pompom' after a beautiful rose printed fabric designed by Ascher in the 1950s, and used extensively in the summer Haute Couture collection by Dior. Apollo magazine London published a six page monograph on Ascher in 1987. His work was displayed at the first major retrospective of Balenciaga's work at the Silk Museum in Lyons 1986. One of the first John Galliano's collections, 'Les Incroyables' featured many yards of Ascher's cream cheesecloth, drenched in water.There have been only four instances of production of the Henry Moore textiles and scarves by the Aschers in the 65 years since they were designed: The first was in the late eighties when Zika Ascher printed two designs for wall panels which had not previously been printed. The second was when the Henry Moore Foundation asked the Aschers to reprint various curtain textiles that had faded over time at the artist's house at Perry Green. The third was a reprint of Moore scarves for the gift shop at Tate Modern, when they mounted a major retrospective of the artist's work in 2010. The fourth was as part of the first scarf collection by Sam Ascher, grandson of Zika Ascher, for Spring/Summer 2011, in which some archive designs by Moore, Graham Sutherland, and other artists were featured.