The A-Z of Her­mès Car­rés

How well do you know the House’s trea­sured silk squares? jacquie ang takes you on a jour­ney of (re)dis­cov­ery

Prestige (Singapore) - - FASHION -

A for Artists

The late Her­mès CEO Robert Du­mas tapped cre­ative tal­ents in­clud­ing Ger­man com­mer­cial poster artist Hugo Grygkar and French book il­lus­tra­tor Philippe Le­doux, whose names be­came in­trin­si­cally linked to the lux­ury house. In 2003, Du­mas’ grand­son Pierre-alexis in­vited fash­ion de­signer Bali Bar­ret to de­sign the sem­i­nal Soie Belle col­lec­tion. Three years later, she would be en­trusted with the artis­tic di­rec­tion of women’s silk.

B for Brides de Gala

The most iconic of Her­mès’ de­signs was born in 1957 when Hugo Grygkar placed two bri­dles, fac­ing each other on the floor, to cre­ate a per­fect com­po­si­tion that’s un­der­stated yet im­pec­ca­bly el­e­gant. The cult carré ex­presses Her­mès first vo­ca­tion as a sad­dler and har­ness­maker — “One can al­most hear the creak of the leather bri­dles, the clink of the metal parts”, de­scribed JeanLouis Du­mas — with reis­sues in an ar­ray of up­dates through the years.

C for Carré

The word means “square” in French, which is also the name Her­mès chris­tens its scarves, usu­ally in 90 x 90cm. In 2007, Her­mès in­tro­duced the smaller Carré 70. Mea­sur­ing 70 x 70cm, the carré came in vin­tage silk for a lived-in feel­ing that evoked a cher­ished se­cu­rity blan­ket.

D for De­sign

Since the birth of the first carré in 1937, 2,000 de­signs have been dreamt up at Her­mès to date, with around 30 re­leased ev­ery year to tell new sto­ries.

E for En­grav­ing

Bent over a light box, the en­graver traces each colour, one by one, on a trans­par­ent film placed on a mock-up. A de­sign com­posed of 30 colours re­quires be­tween 400 and 600 hours of en­grav­ing.

F for Fin­ish­ing

The fi­nal step to a carré is also what dis­tin­guishes it. Ex­e­cuted by hand, the roulotté is the “French style” rolled hem that re­quires seam­stresses to roll the edges on the right side of the scarf del­i­cately, and hem with a silk thread in an iden­ti­cal colour to the bor­der. An ex­pe­ri­enced roulot­teuse takes 45mins to ex­e­cute this metic­u­lous op­er­a­tion.

G for Gavroche

A small carré of 45 x 45cm in silk twill, it was in­spired by men’s pocket hand­ker­chiefs.

H for Har­monies

Armed with a chart com­pris­ing 75,000 hues ac­cu­mu­lated over the sea­sons, colourists pro­pose pal­ettes for de­signs to be pro­duced in

10 or so dif­fer­ent har­monies, go­ing through sev­eral tri­als be­fore achiev­ing the win­ning com­bi­na­tions. Along with sug­ges­tions, they also pro­vide the for­mula to at­tain the nu­ances, and the recipe for each hue (the ex­act pro­por­tion of pig­ments and binder).

I for Indis­pens­able

Think of the carré as fash­ion’s Swiss army knife. Its use­ful­ness and ver­sa­til­ity are bound­less — it can be worn as a bib while you change out of a stained shirt on a plane, or knot­ted around a man’s neck as a tie to meet the dress code in a fine din­ing restau­rant. The myr­iad ways to style Her­mès’ host of car­rés en­sure you never run out of wardrobe op­tions.

J for Jeu des Om­nibus et des Dames Blanches

Her­mès in­tro­duced its first carré Jeu des Om­nibus et des Dames Blanches in 1937. Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from an 1800s board game from Émile Her­mès’ col­lec­tion of an­tiques, the de­sign il­lus­trates the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Parisian pub­lic om­nibus line from Madeleine to Bastille with horse-drawn ve­hi­cles en­cir­cling a cen­tral medal­lion fea­tur­ing well-dressed men and women at the game ta­ble, with the words, “a good player never loses his tem­per”, above.

K for Knot­ting Cards

A pack of cards of­fer­ing ideas ac­com­pa­nied with step-by-step guides for ty­ing a carré.

L for Losange

Launched in 1999, this carré comes in the shape of a lozenge cut on the di­ag­o­nal, avail­able in a sin­gle colour or in print.

M for Moth

One silk moth of the Bom­byx mori species pro­duces enough raw silk fil­a­ment to weave one carré. The fe­male moth lays around 300 eggs (called “grains”) to pro­duce as many silk­worms. They de­vour two bushes of mul­berry leaves, be­fore weav­ing their co­coons that will yield 450km of silk thread for one carré.

N for Name

Each carré has a name that of­ten forms an in­te­gral part of the orig­i­nal de­sign.

O for Orange

“From the be­gin­ning, the Her­mès carré was imag­ined as an ob­ject, and not as an ac­ces­sory,” ex­plains Pierre-alexis. “It is an ob­ject per­fectly com­posed and au­ton­o­mous, which can suf­fice on its own.” Ev­ery carré comes in the orange box so em­blem­atic of the brand.

P for Prize

Equipped with an in­no­va­tive tech­nique that au­to­mat­i­cally de­ter­mines the quan­tity of colour for print ac­cord­ing to the area to be coloured, the Mai­son ef­fi­ciently re­duces wastage of colour­ing ma­te­ri­als and wa­ter con­sump­tion. This re­spect for the en­vi­ron­ment earned Her­mès the first prize for Eco­nomic and Clean Tech­nol­ogy at the Pol­lutec fair in Lyon in 2002.

Q for Queen

Ti­ta­nia, queen of the fairies from Shake­speare’s A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream, makes an ap­pear­ance on Édouard Baribeaud’s carré de­sign, Acte III, scène I, La Clair­ière. She is de­picted fall­ing in love un­der the moon­light in a mag­i­cal for­est, a scene that pays homage to baroque theatre, In­dian minia­tures and early cin­ema.

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