the story behind the hermès scarf

2010 hermès ad

2010 hermès ad

I purchased my first Hermès scarf at a resale boutique in the 16th arrondissement on my very first trip to Paris and couldn’t contain my glee as they passed the signature orange box to me at the register.  Since then I’ve started my own collection of Hermès scarves and regularly incorporate them into my outfits and love learning new ways to tie them.  Did you know that Hermès has an app for tying their scarves?  They also have little booklets and “playing cards” that show you how-to tie these oh so fashionable silk squares.  But how do they come up with such unique designs every year?  What exactly goes into the making of a scarf?

via vintage fashion guide

via vintage fashion guide

There is no one scarf designer, in fact, artists from all over the world create the designs for Hermès’ beautiful carrés.  Even a postal employee in Texas named Kermit Oliver is responsible for over a dozen designs!  About 50 freelance artists are employed by the design house at any given time with the goal of designing twenty scarves a year.  More than 2,000 scarf designs exist but not all of them have been produced.  The designs are kept in “le frigo” {refrigerator} -- a white metal box kept in the Hermès offices just off rue St. Honoré.

via the wall street journal

via the wall street journal

The design of a scarf is a collaboration between a team of three that includes Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the great-grandson of the founder of Hermès, Thierry Hermès.  The scarves themselves are produced in the company’s workshop just outside of Lyon.  Did you know it takes 280 miles of silk thread to make one scarf!?  It takes 18 months to produces a scarf design and six months to determine each of the colors present in a design; each scarf contains an average of 27 colors -- that means 27 separate screens need to be created to print each scarf!  From there it takes 750 hours to engrave the screens for printing each design.  Once the scarves have been screen printed and cut, the edges are hand-rolled and stitched with tiny stitches at the edges {the hand-rolled edges make it easy to spot the fakes.}  Each seamstress rolls about seven scarves a day.  

Here is a video that shows you just a fraction of the process of making an Hermès scarf ::

The first scarf was produced in 1937 based on a woodblock drawing designed by Robert Dumas {an Hermès family member.}  The scarf was made of the same silk that lined Hermès' riding jackets {and they use the same silk today.}

jeu des omnibus by hermès

jeu des omnibus by hermès

Princess Grace wore an Hermès scarf as a sling in 1956.

Who can forget the scene where Emily Blunt's character sends multiple scarves flying onto the street when she gets hit by a taxi?  I shed a few tears over that one -- not because the girl was hit by a cab, but because all of those beautiful scarves were ruined on the dirty streets of NYC.

Here are just a few of Hermès fantabulously gorgeous scarf designs from over the years ::