Hermes :: The making of a scarf

I had the pleasure this morning of being invited to a press preview of the Hermes exhibit on display at the Bravern.  Hermes is a legendary French brand that I absolutely adore.  I was excited to see what Hermes would offer - and excited because the event is called the Festival des Métiers (or the Festival of Crafts).  I think we all know how much I love crafts.  

The event is open to the public February 23rd - 28th and I highly encourage you to check it out.  I know a lot of people think it's just another expensive brand, but when you see how immaculately everything is produced - and the amazing attention to detail - you will come to understand the price a bit better. 

Throughout the space at the Bravern, Hermes has collected some of their crafts people to show you how they create each piece at Hermes, including a tanner making gloves, another tanner making handbags, a seamstress making men's shirts, a seamstress making men's ties, a tanner making a horse saddle, an artist etching glass to make a scarf silkscreen pattern, and a silk screener.  For me, that was the highlight.  I adore scarves - and Hermes scarves are some of the best around.  


We got to see exactly how the scarves are printed.  Not only are they completely done by hand - but every component of the scarf, from the silk to the ink, is created at Hermes for Hermes.  They have about 75,000 ink colors in their repertoire and the silk is spun from silk cocoons from Brazil.  It takes about 300 cocoons to create one scarf.   


Henri (above) has been making scarves at Hermes for the last 35 years and showed us today how he makes them.  He speaks no english, so he had a partner (who's only been at Hermes 23 years) walking us through the process.  Generally when they make these scarves they make 150 at a time - today they made just two.  And most of their scarves require about 30 colors - up to 45 colors - but today they showed us 10 colors in a scarf.  With only 10 colors - and two scarves - it took about one hour to complete the pattern.  

Image 1 :: Silk is laid out on a clean table and the screen is set in place    
Image 2 :: The black outline is screened onto the silk    
Image 3 :: Ink is carefully poured onto the screen.  It has to be exact so the screener doesn't stutter when pulling across the screen
Image 4 :: A shade of purple being added
Image 5 :: Red is added
Image 6 :: Green is added - note the large flower has become darker.  The green was screened across the shade of purple in the previous screening to create a deeper shade.  It was amazingly full of depth in person

They print the scarves on a warm table so the ink dries between each application.  At one point we had to take a short break because our weather was so cold and the table started to cool off.  (Most of the people only spoke French, and "la table est froid" was one of the few sentences I understood! Hooray high school French).

Image 7 :: Magenta is added
Image 8 :: The background color - they called it Chocolate Brown, it looks pretty orange to me
Image 9 :: Both scarves side by side in an almost complete state.
Image 10 :: The right scarf is finished when the galley is added - a band that runs the edge of the scarf allows enough space for hemming.  Which, by the way, is done by hand.
Image 11 :: Fini

While I was there, the room bubbled with French and was filled with activity as waiters passed trays of appetizers and crafts people busily worked away showing off their skill sets.  The room was filled with people from around town and the executives from Hermes.  Tomorrow I'll post an interview with the president of Hermes - who was utterly charming - and a few more pictures from the event.  For now, you can see the display at the Bravern (almost right across from the store itself) and pick up some of the handcrafted pieces at the store!  Or online.

Comments

Nick Williams said…
Wow that is interesting and beautiful. It really requires a lot of creativity and hard work. The scarves are simply beautiful and colorful.
This is a wonderful post, Alexandra. I, too, went to the Festival des Métiers last week. I was going to post a detailed article on my blog, but you have done such a great job (not to mention your pics are better than mine ;-) that I will just send my readers to your blog. I hope that is all right with you. Merci beaucoup! --
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