Hermès scarves and squares
Hermes scarves and squares. Although she is best known in popular culture for her selection of handbags, Hermès is also famous for its silk scarves.
The silk scarf has become a classic and icon of the brand, often described as timeless, trans-generational, even mythical. By the time the fashion house decided to make squares, it had already been in business for a century. The very first to design works of art for these scarves was Robert Dumas, whose father-in-law was Emile Hermès.
In addition to their superb quality, Hermès squares are very versatile, making these accessories an excellent complement to any wardrobe. But how did the House of Hermès come to create this delicate luxury accessory?
The history of the Hermès silk square
It was in 1937 that Robert Dumas, then Director of Hermès, created the first square: "Jeu des omnibus et Dames blanches", inspired by a game of the popular Goose, with a nod to the inauguration of the Madeleine-Bastille line. (click on the image to see the square)
Hermes gives the name "butterfly" to each little square of silk because each one is produced by the number of eggs (300) that a silkworm lays in a lifetime, or four hundred and fifty kilometers of silk!
This famous mulberry cocoon silk, imported from China, undoubtedly contributed to the immediate success of the square.
A meticulous handcrafted process
One of the reasons why Hermès squares are so popular is the meticulous process that extends over a year per creation. In general, the house publishes twelve models of scarves per year.
From design to production, it takes eighteen months to make a scarf.
Once a design has been selected, it is silk-screened in Hermès' French workshop. The printers used for production must be engraved for each new print, which can take more than seven hundred hours to implement.
The hems of the scarf are of course hand-rolled. This hem must never be ironed and must remain curved.
For each collection, Hermès selects different artists to create a hand-made scarf in a unique way. The detailed representations range from traditional equestrian prints to the most modern or even fanciful shapes, depending on the craftsman, and the precise details attest to the impeccable quality of each scarf.
The variety of shapes and sizes of Hermès squares
The classic square silk scarf is available in 20 cm (nano), 40 cm (gavroche), 70 cm (bandana heart), 90 or 100 cm (square) and 140 cm (shawl size).
The Twilly scarf, which is a long, narrow shape with diagonally hemmed ends, is available in the following sizes : Standard Twilly, Maxi Twilly Slim and Maxi Twilly Cut and are often used to dress up handbag handles in elegant women's handbags.
Squares are also produced in triangle and diamond shapes, available in Giant and standard sizes. The Diamond cut is an elongated diamond shape, which is available in the sizes Giant, Medium and Slim and also comes in a tie.
Hermes silk scarves are also available in pleated. The entire scarf is pleated from end to end, creating a structured texture against the silky fabric. It can be found in all shapes and sizes.
The uses for Hermès scarves are seemingly endless, ranging from the use of a square to adorn the handle of a Birkin or Kelly bag, to a diamond as a belt or headband.
Bloggers, celebrities and socialites are known for their creativity when it comes to attaching their scarves. One of the oldest icons of Hermes scarves is the Queen of England herself, who usually covers her hair with them.
Originally, the illustrations were close to the equestrian world and hunting, then evolved towards animals, the arts, the Napoleonic epic, or the automobile, then sports in general with, for example, an edition for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.
Nowadays, the drawings are very varied, from the most classical to the most contemporary and are all made in the workshops in the Lyon region and yet signed "Hermès Paris".
Each season, Hermès selects different artists to configure the designs by hand in a unique way, and the palette of styles that emerge from each process is extremely varied.
Each of the artists marks the collection with his or her own style, and the designers are carefully selected for their universe, which fits perfectly into the Hermès aesthetic.
For example, Alice Shirley is famous for her "Jaguar Quetzal" jaguar scarf, released in 2000 (click on the image to see the square) :
Another famous Hermès motif is the "Harnais Français Premier Empire" print, designed by Hugo Grygkar in collaboration with Robert Dumas in 1956. The scarf alludes to the origins of Hermès as a manufacturer of harnesses and saddles (click on the image to see the square) :
This rare model is sought after by collectors because it is a representation of the history of the brand while summarizing its fundamental ideals: functional art that lasts.
In 1991, the "TSUBAS" square by Christiane Vauzelles was created. The motifs represent a Japanese weapon, notably the katanas, whose guard is called TSUBA. 5 TSUBAS are symmetrically arranged on the scarf: 1 at each corner and one in the centre. Four Samurai or Aori saddle flaps are beautifully decorated with dragons and other Japanese symbols. The square is titled 'Tsubas' at the bottom center in the bridle that borders the designs (click on the image to see the square) :
We end the presentation of the squares with a great classic of the House of Hermès, a rather rare model: "Proues" designed by Philippe Ledoux in 1971 (click on the image to see the square):
The history and know-how of the Hermès carrés are rich and varied, as is the product offering. Many of these scarves have become collector's items whose value and popularity continue to grow over time. The multitude of shapes, sizes and models ensures that one (if not many) of these items will suit the tastes and personalities of the brand's devotees, as they are an essential part of every refined woman's wardrobe.