Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hermès Feux d'Artifice and me, or how collections get started




Seven or eight years ago, apropo of nothing I can remember, someone I knew only through the internet sent me this:



You could have knocked me over with a silk scarf - it was a stunningly generous and kind gesture.

A few months later, someone else gave me THIS:



The poster commemorating the 150th anniversary fireworks display that Hermes held in central Paris.  I frankly haven't seen another one of these posters anywhere - ebay, Hermes collectors groups etc.  And mine has been signed (well, probably robo-signed) by the chairman of Hermes.  

And thus, just that easily, I decided I was going to start snapping up these Hermes Feux d'Artifice scarves if I saw them at a decent price.  It's an ideal collection, because it has an absolutely finite limit - I know that Hermes couldn't have made this scarf in more than... 24?... combinations.  Probably fewer than that.  And these scarves are already 27 years old, so they don't exactly fall out of the sky by the dozens every week.



I actually have nine now - I just got a yellow one a few weeks ago...

But the question of why someone would have multiple scarves in the same design is a good one.  I know of lots of Hermes collectors who focus specifically on a few designs, or a particular illustrator, or a theme like seashells or birds.



I like to admire the degree to which the designer of this scarf has taken every little detail and re-colored it to be in harmony with the overall color scheme of the scarf.  And collecting these pushes me out of my comfort zone of never wearing yellow or orange accessories.  When folded and draped, the scarves are surprisingly NOT just orange or yellow or whatever the main border color shows.

And how to wear a scarf with a necklace?  I'll post some photographs of myself if the sun ever comes out again, but here's the general geometry of how it works:

long necklace = high knot on the scarf, so the necklace peeks out below the knot and between the "tails" of the scarf

short necklace + low knot on scarf, so the necklace is framed by the two "panels" of scarf that hang down either side of your neck



29 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the clarification on wearing the "scarf and necklace" combo. I look forward to the pics. We're due for gray skies the next 5 days here on Cape Cod too.....
    ♥ Martha

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  2. You really are a mathematical/architectural genius.

    Someone I know only from the internet sent me a scarf last year also. What an amazing gift that was. It is mostly green and I wear it a lot, including when I teach "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," which features a green scarf or sash. I have so far been too timid to buy another, even though I want to.

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    1. No, actually she is just a genius. Beautiful and brilliant!

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  3. That is interesting that you are collecting one particular design. In the last 3 years I have added one Hermes scarf each year to my own collection bringing it to a whopping 4--still a big deal for me given their cost. I have explained to my husband that to me they are works of wearable art...thus the investment is worth it. I have some other scarves that I enjoy wearing too but so far nothing compares in color, workmanship and design to any of my Hermes. They make me sigh when I get them out to wear.

    As far as the scarf/necklace combo...I have also worn my scarf with a long strand of pearls intertwined around the scarf, knotted in the front. I really like that option too.

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  4. The wonderful thing about Hermes scarves is that only you, the wearer knows the whole true beauty. The world only sees a swirl of rich colors and fabulous small details. Quite a difference from the usual high end over-logoed "status" items pushed on us these days!

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  5. Thank you for answering the question about the scarf/necklace combination. Due to your inspiration I have delved back into my accessories drawer and pulled out my scarves again. I see new outfits galore in my closet. .....THANK YOU!!!

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  6. Janice, do you hand wash your scarves? Someone who owned a dress shop told me that high quality scarves can indeed be handwashed because their dyes are so much better. I have tried it successfully on a few of my expensive scarves (though none by Hermes), and I have been pleased with the results. No more worry about the cleaner steaming the handrolled edges.

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    1. I do. It's a terrifying exercise is fast-moving swishing about, because some dyes - especially green (???) will run - but they come out beautifully bright... I also take them up to Hermes and have them send them off to New York once in a while, if I have one that I'm just too nervous about, or that needs some serious attention.

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    2. The Laundress, in New York, sells some absolutely wonderful hand/machine wash for silks. Have never tried it on a Hermes (still waiting to find mine) -- but have used it on just about everything else. Wonder whether Hermes sends the scarves to the Laundress (who also has a washing service). Susan

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    3. I use Johnson's baby shampoo plus a half tsp of salt in the water; works perfectly.

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  7. What a lovely gift! Hermes has such gorgeous designs I think that their scarves are works of art.
    I'd be quite afraid of hand washing my Hermes scarves fo fear the colours would run. I hand washed a Balenciaga scarf and ruined it. The dyes all ran together.

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  8. Thanks, Janice, for the tips on scarf and necklace combining. Great way to dress up an all black outfit! I'll try these. Yesterday, I saw a woman who had her scarf tied to look like a cowel collar and her long chain necklace hung under and below it. That was beautiful so I copied it today by wearing all navy, a scarf tied that way and a long gold chain necklace. Can't wait to try your suggestions. Thanks!

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  9. I never thought about collecting Hermes scarves in all the same pattern, although I do have a couple of repeats...I just love collecting them in general! I bought my first in 1984 when I was fresh out of college and backpacking through Europe and have been hooked ever since...the perfect souvenir of Paris.

    Do you take them to the Hermes store and they send them out for cleaning? I have never done that and I am curious how it works...

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  10. The scarves are truly works of art. I don't have any Hermes but maybe some day.

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  11. Thanks for showing the photographs. These scarves are truly beautiful.

    Also, thanks for showing us how to wear a scarf with jewelry. I too had wondered about that when you would show an outfit with both a scarf and a necklace. I will have to try it.

    LeNora

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  12. In 1997, I was in Stockholm with three girlfriends. It was a very cold, wet and windy April day and I saw a dark wet piece of fabric on the sidewalk in Gamla Stan. After picking it up, I discovered it was an Hermes scarf, probably blew off someone's shoulder. I took it home cleaned it up and found that it was the scarf commemorating Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. Just lovely, not in any colors I wear but I love it to this day. I wonder sometimes about the woman who lost this. As I was in town for a short time and it was in the middle of the city, I had no contacts to try to locate the owner.

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  13. I'm so pleased you are going to post some pics about how you wear your scarves. I've never been able to quite make the mental image of how the scarves are worn with the outfits ... So, I'm looking forward to being educated. :-)

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  14. I covet your Hermes scarves, but even considering the idea of "fewer, but higher quality," I still can't quite bring myself to spend that much money.

    Perhaps this question is sacrilegious, but are there any other designers that you can suggest that aren't quite so spendy?

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    1. Any scarf that's a natural fabric, that you like, it worth buying. Scarves don't take a lot of wear and tear, so they don't have to be fabulously durable. If you think it's pretty, that's enough! One of my favorite places to buy scarves is Diwali, in Paris, and those are mass-produced in India - far from expensive!

      Chic isn't really about money. It's about having a plan, some discipline, quite a bit of personal self-knowledge, and the occasional creative burst of nuttiness...

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    2. I love your definition of chic, Janice!

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  15. Since I have been reading your blog, I have purchased my first Hermes scarf. It's a vintage one (about 1992 if you can call that vintage) and by the only American Hermes scarf designer--Kermit Oliver.

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  16. I don't own any Hermes scarves but I wanted to tell you my story.

    About 6 months ago a woman rear-ended my car - hard - as I was sitting at a stoplight.

    I had just bought a cup of cofee and it sloshed all over the interior of my car.

    When I got out, she ran up to me and said she was sorry, that there was really no damage to my car, and that she couldn't afford to pay for it anyway so wouldn't I just let it go? There was a big indentation in my bumper, which I wouldn't call "no damage."

    I noticed she was wearing an Hermes scarf.

    I'll admit, knowing she could afford that scarf made me less sympathetic to her protestation that she couldn't afford to pay for the damages to my car (and as it turns out she had insurance anyway.)

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    1. How horrid! Anybody wearing an Hermes scarf can probably afford to pay for auto damages, or they could always SELL THEIR SCARF...
      She doesn't deserve the scarf, I'd say!

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  17. Hi and thanks for a fantastic blog.
    I'd like to know how you take care of your scarves?
    Do you handwash them or send them to get dry cleaned?

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    1. Both - the really recently purchased ones I take back to Hermes and they send them off to some place in New York. But my older scarves - I lodge my heart firmly in my throat, and hand wash them. There are lots of instructions around the internet on how this is done, but my key variables are cold water, speed speed speed, and drying them flat on a towel. So far, so good!

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    2. I called the Hermes store in Copenhagen (live in Denmark) and asked what to do. He recommended to have them dry cleaned, because the silk has been given a light coating of "something", so it shouldn't get dirty, an the hand wash could ruin that.
      But my scarf is about 40 years old, so I might give it a try with hand wash.

      Happy Easter.

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  18. love this post - now i don't feel so bad - i adore the print cent plis des miao - it is one of the more complicated prints and it has the most colors about I think the SA told me about 26 different colors so is one of their more intricate patterns - I just fell in love with the print but I only have three of its colors. Maybe I should aim to get the whole range!

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  19. Hi, I think this Feux d'Artifice on Shopgoodwill is a fake. I emailed them but never heard back. If you agree, could you email them, too? I hate to see counterfeits being sold. http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?ItemID=16988704

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    1. It is indeed a terribly fake - you have to be amused by the years shown on the scarf - if it's not 150 years, it's wrong...

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