Ode to scarves (particularly Hermès)

With all due respect to the late, great Nora Ephron, why feel bad about your neck when you have the perfect excuse to cover it up?

Camouflage is one reason to indulge in all manner of gorgeous, glorious scarves. But here are some others:

  • A scarf Frenchifies any outfit, adding a touch of glamour
  • Adding a scarf to a basic outfit looks as though you care, even when you don’t
  • You get a lot of bang for not a lot of bucks, accessory speaking

Scarves add color to my otherwise totally drab closet of neutrals. Or, in fashion-speak, jeans + plain top + 36” square of silk = “high-low” dressing.

When I first started collecting Hermès scarves I had no idea of their history, I just thought they were beautiful. For the non-obsessives among you, here’s a very brief synopsis; after all, entire books have been written on this topic!

Although the house of Hermès was established in 1837, it took 100 years before the carré (“square” in French) was created, designed by artist Hugo Grygkar in 1937.

http://carredeparis.me/2013/05/19/hugo-grygkar-the-father-of-the-carre-hermes/

Hermès issues two collections a year, along with some exclusives and re-issues of older designs. The images can be elegant, playful, simple or elaborate, with each design offered in colors ranging from primary-bright to subtle pastels and themes that include nautical, equestrian, nature and seasonal activities. This year, one of my favorites is “Paddock”, a design from the 50’s that manages to be both contemporary and nostalgic. “Brides de Gala” (decorative show bridles), a Grygkar design from 1957, is the house’s most famous scarf. According to the fact-finders at Wikipedia, it’s been produced more than 70,000 times!

Queen Elizabeth II wore an Hermès scarf in the portrait used for a 1986 British stamp, and Princess Grace Kelly wore hers on the cover of a 1956 issue of Life magazine. If that doesn’t make you feel regal, ladies, I don’t know what will!

The 36” square (90 cm x 90 cm) weighs a hefty 65 grams and will probably outlive you, your children and your grandchildren. Each hem is hand-stitched with the rolled part facing up, and don’t forget to look for the artist’s signature. Interestingly, even though Grygkar produced an estimated 100+ designs, he never signed his work. Talented and modest!

Then, there are the larger squares, shawls, oblong twillys and maxi-twillys. Doesn’t your neck deserve a thank-you for all those years of holding up your head?! And if you get tired of wearing one you can always hang it on your wall. In my book, it IS art!

For your little piece of history, check out this year’s “Brides de Gala” at www.hermes.com or scroll through the amazing images on  http://piwigo.hermesscarf.com/index?/category/Home

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