My travel must have? Well, credit card & passport. But after that… A scarf. My favorite brand? Hermès.
I have used scarves as belts, skirts, curtains, face masks; even as a bag. But usually I use one, or two, to dress up an outfit. There is nothing like opening the distinct orange box to discover the Queen of Scarves. Whether tied to my purse, around my neck or draped over my head, a Hermès scarf adds instant glam and a pop of colour to my black & white travel wardrobe. I am not the first to discover this magic. This iconic product has been a hit since it was first made in 1937, 100 years after the founding of the House.
Thierry Hermès opened his harness making workshop in Paris in 1837. His son opened their first shop at 24 rue de Faubourg Sainte-Honore. It is still there. And six generations later the family still owns the company.
The design of the first scarf was created by Robert Dumas, a fourth generation son-in-law. The Hermès scarf was made from imported Chinese silk that was twice as strong as any other scarf available at the time. The rich & famous were immediately smitten.
The embodiment of elegance, Audrey Hepburn, wore hers regularly. Grace Kelly turned hers into a sling. And Queen Elizabeth must have been photographed protecting her hair in more scarves than anyone else. Lest you think they are dated… Madonna wore one as a halter top, Olivia Palermo has an instagram tutorial on transforming one into a mask, Rihanna & Miranda Kerr are fans . They are worn like armor by women facing challenges and the press.
It takes 18 months to create each scarf. Artists are hired to make the unique designs, often equestrian, but inspiration is vast. One of my personal favorites is bright yellow covered with cranberries. Once approved, the designs are individually screen printed. It takes around 750 hours to engrave the screens, a separate one for each color. There are an average of 27 distinct colors per scarf. It can take 6 months just to do the silk screening. Each one uses the silk from 250 mulberry moth cocoons.
All hems are hand rolled and stitched. Machine hemming is a sure sign of a fake. An expert seamstress can hem about 7 per day. 2 collections are produced each year. Some old patterns are reissued and there are periodic limited editions produced. These are the scarves that tend to increase the most in value. Pristine condition helps too.
I bought my first in 1985 when I lived in Paris and have been collecting & gifting them ever since. While it is tempting to save such a treasure for a special occasion, they are meant to be tied, worn and enjoyed! Plus they are great for traveling.