Saturday, May 14, 2016

Collection SS2016: Bain de Mer

Jean-Louis Clerc met Robert Dumas in 1950, when the artist was in his forties, with a string of prestige collaborations to his name.  Clerc went on to create a dozen carrés with the house of Hermès.  Bain de mer is based on an original drawing belonging to Jean-Louis Clerc’s family. 

The decade is the 1950s. On a deserted beach, a young woman in a broad-brimmed hat sits gazing at the sea. Her name is Minouche, and she is none other than the artist’s wife, captured with his characteristically lively, light touch, in just a few lines, evoking the graphic elegance of an era. Duplicated here, the drawing suggests a strip of vintage film, a sweet souvenir of summer, the kind we warm to on a cold winter night.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Collection SS2016: The Savana Dance

 Chased by a leopard, a vervet monkey turns to face its predator, his expression anxious and uncertain. In Zulu culture, the leopard symbolises royalty, while the vervet monkey represents intelligence and wit – fine qualities, though they may not be enough to save his life here.  But who knows?  Giant King Protea blooms (South Africa’s national flower) surround the two protagonists, and the carré is framed with a border of amazumpa motifs, used in Zulu pottery.  Ardmore is a collective of Zulu, Zimbabwean and Sotho artisan potters, founded in 1985 by Fée Halsted, in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. 

Today, the group numbers seventy members: creative artists dedicated to reinventing traditional styles, united by their recognition of what our common humanity and fraternity truly mean: that each of us exists thanks to others. This carré marks the beginning of a new collaboration between the collective, and the house of Hermès.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Collection SS2016: Les Ailes pleines de joie

 Les Ailes pleines de joie (‘Wings of joy’) is a hymn to Nature. 

Fluttering between earth and sky, a cloud of butterflies haloes a tree as round and bright as planet Earth; fish seem to fly, and all is simple, bright and cheerful. Inspired by Seventies Flower Power, Ljubomir Milinkov’s carré is a delicate, witty evocation of the radiant, natural world of his childhood. Life has taken the artist far from his home village of Sovac, in Serbia. 

In 1962, age 24, he flew to Paris to pursue his dream of becoming a painter. New York beckoned, and Milinkov lived for several years in the United States before returning to France, where Jean-Louis Dumas commissioned his first carré design, Jardin enchanté, in 1986.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Collection SS2016: Bonnes Vibrations

Pierre Marie’s intriguing, complex composition is inspired, he says, by "the invisible forces of Nature".

In the 18th century, the German physician Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni (the inventor of a musical instrument known as the euphon, and the author of a treatise on acoustics) performed an unusual experiment. He took a copper disc, sprinkled it with fine sand and ran a violin bow along its outer edge.  The resulting musical vibrations had a surprising side effect: the sand particles organized themselves into geometric patterns, known today as Chladni figures. 

"Imagine my astonishment, when I saw what no man had ever seen before" he declared.  "A ten- or twelve-pointed star appeared before my eyes".  Pierre Marie presents his own interpretation of Chladni’s ' "geometry of sound".

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Collection SS2016: Cuivreries

Françoise de la Perrière created this carré in the early 1960s.  Arranged in a starry, circular composition, a group of ornamental horse brasses (the "cuivreries" of the French title) are affixed to "martingales" – leather harness straps, one end of which is designed to pass under the horse’s belly. 

The finely-worked designs feature abstract or figurative motifs – windroses, mermaids, a fleur de lys, a heart, a horse, a ferocious dog, scrolling fronds or stylized, geometric leaves and flowers. Worn as amulets, the brasses are thought to date back to the Middle Ages and perhaps even Antiquity.  In Britain, they are worn by working or dray horses.  Each horse wears a number of brasses: one on the forelock, one behind each ear, three at the shoulders and between six and ten on the martingale.  The brasses total up to six or seven pounds in weight.  Much prized by collectors, they were sure to catch the expert eye of Émile Hermès, a connoisseur noted for his love of the equestrian world and its curiosities.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Collection SS2016: Parcours sans Faute

The beloved Florence Manlik, whom we introduced in 2011 with the beautiful Brides de Gala en Finesse and again last year with A la plume, is proposing a new design, quite a departure from her previous designs.

The motifs, and the ‘clear round’ of the title of Florence Manlik’s composition, celebrate the equestrian heritage of the house of Hermès.  Bits, riding crops and curb chains are orchestrated with extreme precision in a seemingly endless design that has no discernible beginning or end. 

The carré reflects the fascination and excitement of show jumping, says the artist: "The straight lines, curves and repeated figures embody discipline and structure, and the shifting pace of acceleration and restraint, culminating under the spectators’ excited gaze, in a magnificent, thoroughly deserved victory".  

A tribute to one of the equestrian world’s greatest challenges, over a course memorized by horse and rider alike down to the last centimetre, and the tips of their hooves and boots.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Collection SS2016: Apparat des Plaines

Antoine Tzapoff – that great connoisseur of Native American culture – offers a detailed portrait of a member of the Absaroka or Crow Nation, from the plains of Montana, pictured here in late 19th-century dress. 

The costume is remarkable for its rich ornamentation, carefully maintained by the Crow as a way of safeguarding their precious identity.  Dressed in buckskin decorated with strips of beadwork, the man wears a headdress of eagle feathers and ermine.  The horses either side of him wear dress harnesses and bridles decorated with metal pendants – a relic of the bits used by 17th-century Spanish colonists.  A remarkable testimony to the pride of the Crow Nation.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Collection SS2016: Mythiques Phoenix Coloriages

The legendary phoenix, mount of the gods, is a gigantic, fabulous bird, thought to live for hundreds of years before consuming itself in flames, to be reborn in a nest of myrrh and incense.  The ancient Greeks associated its name (phoinix) with the date palm, a symbol of fertility and longevity. 

The creature seems to emerge from the centre of the carré, surrounded by the date palm’s foliage and fruit.  Transformed by its new colour treatment, the composition resembles a sophisticated colouring book.  Like an allegory of re-birth, colour takes its place around the central bird of paradise.  Already, the head is flooded with colour and new life.  Gradually, black and white give way to an inrush of colour.  The phoenix rises from the ashes.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Collection SS2016: Modernisme tropical

The first carré from Sao Paulo-born artist Filipe Jardim captures ‘his’ Brazil – a Brazil of the imagination and reality, too, with its distinctive, resolutely modernist architectural landscape. 

The richly-detailed, vibrant composition superimposes the curves of Brasilia (the new capital, inaugurated in 1960) and the strict, angular forms of the Paulista school, a grouping of architects from the city of Sao Paulo.  But Brazil is a jungle nation, too – the mata atlantica is the country’s Atlantic tropical forest.  Banana, aloe vera, and alocasia leaves are entwined in this astonishing, seductive portrait.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Collection SS2016: Under The Waves

 Alice Shirley pays tribute to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s biggest coral reef, off the coast of Queensland in northern Australia.  The reef is the largest living organic structure on Earth.  It features on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and is home to a fascinating abundance of fauna. 

The living coral ‘sculptures’ attract a multitude of marine species, in an endless ballet of forms and colours.  The sea turtle swims to Milman Islet, a small island off the far north of Queensland, to may its eggs.  The leafy sea dragon takes shelter among the fronds of seaweed, while the mandarin fish busies itself hunting for plankton.  Each owes its existence to the fragile balance of this extraordinary ecosystem.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Collection SS2016 : Maitres de la Foret

With the lightest of touches, Annie Faivre’s carré expresses the full force of nature: the vital energy and burgeoning growth of the plant kingdom.  Plants and trees – the monarchs of the forest – form a dense, awe-inspiring ensemble, reaching ever-upwards to the light. 

Stems, leaves and flowers recall the finesse of traditional Kashmiri motifs, created by Indian weavers for the infinitely soft woollen shawls adopted by fashionable European women from the mid-18th century onwards.  

French textile companies were quick to follow suit, creating their own versions.

The version below, knotted, reminds me of the Jardin de Leila somehow

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Collection SS2016: Belles du Mexique

One of my favourite designs hands down is the Belles du Mexique .. and this season, we're regaled to some wonderful - and unforgettable - colours.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Collection SS2016: Cheval Surprise Coloriage

You must certainly remember the original Cheval Surprise of 2004, by the talented Dimitri Rybaltchenko.  The design had such a strong effect on me, I could not resist the temptation to acquire the scarf (as a gavroche, in 45x45cm) frame it and display it prominently in my living room.

This year, a variation on this theme is sure to enchant us at least as much as back in 2004.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Collection SS2016: Cheval Surprise Remix

You must certainly remember the original Cheval Surprise of 2004, by the talented Dimitri Rybaltchenko.  The design had such a strong effect on me, I could not resist the temptation to acquire the scarf (as a gavroche, in 45x45cm) frame it and display it prominently in my living room.

This year, a variation on this theme is sure to enchant us at least as much as back in 2004.

Horses and riders emerge from a cloudburst of colour.  Dimitri Rybaltchenko leads us on a visual adventure of his own making. Lost at first in the formless splashes of yellow, orange, magenta, blue and green, we gradually discern the hidden silhouettes. It all depends (quite literally) on the viewer’s perspective.  In Rybaltchenko’s own words, ‘disparate, apparently meaningless elements are connected, and take on meaning, a life of their own.’  His design echoes the thought processes that lead to the birth of a new idea: ‘we must let ourselves dream, let our gaze float free. 

A few splashes of colour are all it takes to break the silence.’  Here, silence gives way to the thunder of hooves, the cadenced breath of galloping horses. There’s a moment of calm, in the figures of the iconic horse, carriage and groom, symbols of the house of Hermès (based on a painting by Alfred de Dreux). 

And Carle Vernet and Jonny Audy, equestrian painters of the 18th and 19h centuries, are along for the ride, too.  In the purest spirit of the house of Hermès, classic, foundational motifs take on new, thoroughly modern forms.  Originally conceived in monochrome, and re-cast now in vivid colour, Cheval surprise remix continues to captivate the imagination.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Collection SS2016: Au Pays des Oiseaux Fleurs

From our beloved Christine Henry we have a new design that's set to mesmerize the admirer by inviting her to follow the many chapters of the story and possibly get lost in the story.

Like an allegory of life itself, Au Pays des oiseaux fleurs tells of the interconnections between fauna and flora. The delicate drawing transports us to a dreamlike land of trees, flowers and birds, mingling in rich profusion. 

No two trees are the same, each unfurls scrolling arabesques, decorative forms and flowers, an open invitation to the multicoloured birds snapping twigs to build their nests among the branches, feeding on blossoms, transporting fertile seeds and pollens. 

Plants and animals blend and blur in this composition celebrating the extraordinary richness of life on Earth – the intelligence, beauty and power of nature. No single thing can thrive, it seems to say, without all the rest.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Collection SS2016: Interferences d'Antonio Asis

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1932, Antonio Asis is the Hermes guest artist for the spring/summer season 2016.  He trained at the National School of Fine Arts in his native city, where he won numerous prizes before moving to Paris in 1956, like many other Latin American artists, including Jesús-Rafael Soto or Julio Le Parc. 
Invariably abstract, his work quickly embraced Op Art, exploring the purely optical illusion of movement, in contrast to Kinetic art, which sought to incorporate real, physical motion. Antonio Asis’s Op Art compositions respond to the viewers shifting gaze: their geometric forms and dancing colours seem quite literally to come to life.  The silk carré becomes a vibrant, living surface.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Collection SS2016: L'Instruction du Roy

"The King’s Instruction in the Exercise of Horse Riding" was the title given to a 17th-century work by Antoine de Pluvinel, equerry to Louis XIII, King of France and Navarre.  Pluvinel understood that when training a horse, "kindness is more effective than severity".  Under his care, the animal becomes a responsive, sentient being. 

Pluvinel founded an academy in Paris and wrote his manual (illustrated with superb etchings by Crispin de Pas) in the form of an interview with the young King.   A series of plates at the end of the volume illustrates the particular types of bit recommended for use by the author. 

Henri d’Origny’s design pairs the steel mouthpieces with braided fabric reins: the twists and curves form a pattern offset by scrolling fronds, echoing the tastes and fashions of Pluvinel’s day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Collection SS2016: Fantaisies Indiennes

In the centre of this carré, an exuberant Tree of Life extends its branches laden with sumptuous blossoms and fruit, drawn with great delicacy.  A symbol of the life force and eternal rebirth in many world religions, the tree is framed here by a lively frieze of people and animals, inspired by the frescos and wall paintings of Shekharvati in north-western Rajasthan, in India, where their distinctive, naïf style decorates the homes of wealthy Marwari merchants. 

Loïc Dubigeon’s design presents mythological scenes such as the legend of Dhola Maru (named for its two heroes – lovers who elope riding a camel), together with richly caparisoned elephants, and the British colonialists’ preferred modes of transport: the bicycle, motor-car and train.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Collection SS2016: Tatouage Jungle Love

A naturalist working for the National Natural History Museum in Paris, Robert Dallet was incomparably skilled in magnifying the inimitable coat, forceful lines and strength of the big cats; strength in the most accurate way.  He designed a picture of love for us: that brief and passionate interlude when two solitary creatures come together to give life. In a few months time, two leopard cubs, maybe three, will be born in the hollow of a tree or rock. 

But for the time being, the future parents watchfully examine and size each other up in an amorous display, observed by the curious and entertained gaze of the jungle’s frailest inhabitants.  Taking advantage of the two leopards’ complicity, the paradise flycatcher flutters above them, a bit too closely perhaps.  More cautiously, other neighbours keep their distance in the foliage, among the delicate and perfumed orchids: a continuously astonished bush baby, butterflies with strange names like cymothoe or little monarch and multicolor birds.  The bee-eater, taking its name from its favourite food, sunbirds with their bright plumage, plant nectar lovers, and those little accurately named lovebirds who always live in pair, snuggled together like two chilly children.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Collection SS2016: Panthera Pardus

Throughout 2016, Hermès is paying tribute to the incomparable animal painter Robert Dallet, a naturalist and artist who devoted his life to the study and protection of animals.  In particular, Dallet declared a special fascination, and boundless admiration, for the big cats, producing over a hundred plates cataloging every known species, including Panthera pardus, seen here.  Today, the studies form part of the heritage collection of the house of Hermès. Dallet’s assured hand and confident drawing are especially striking – the fruit of days and weeks spent observing and sketching from life. The animal seems to emerge from out of the silk square. 

The panther is the embodiment of the force of Nature itself; its gaze, fur and posture are astonishingly lifelike.  The Indo-Chinese panther, or panthera pardus delacouri, lives a solitary life in the depths of the region’s great tropical forests, where it is threatened by deforestation and hunting.  The name indicates a male panther, first studied in the early 1930s.  

Panthera pardus is the 2016 solidarity carré: a portion of revenues from the sale of the scarf will be donated to the not-for-profit foundation Panthera, established by Thomas S. Kaplan in 2006, to safeguard the big cats.