I haven't felt so much enthusiasm admiring the Maison's designs for a while. Yet, like a fabulous find in a treasure chest - literally or figuratively - and I'm thinking here of a pair of shoes on a shelf in a tiny shop down one of those quiet streets in an upscale "quartier" (i.e. city district) – this scarf has filled my heart with excitement and joy and stimulated my imagination. So a tribute to it is very much in order.
Perhaps the design with the most promise of the Fall/Winter 2010 Collection – and one I particularly appreciate – "Cent Plis de Miao" ("A Hundred Pleats of Miao") pays tribute to the Miao culture and its nearly four million-strong people bound by it, living in China (the Miao people also live in Vietnam and Laos, where they’re called “Hmong”).
The dress depicted in this design is highly symbolic of the Miao culture and an essential element of it, whose name means “raw rice” – the dress is often mentioned in songs and folk tales, thereby becoming an integral and defining element of the culture. The fabrics are pleated, a technique believed to be inspired from (and reflective of) the mushroom gills. The finer the pleats, the higher the value of the dress.
Of particular interest is the creative craft of rendering the colours on the dress: the blue hues are obtained from a natural indigo pigment where the fabric, previously marked with wax to protect the areas (of the design) desired to appear white, is allowed to soak in the indigo dye. Once the desired hue is obtained, the fabric is remove, allowed to dry, then heated – both to remove the wax and finally to reveal the white patterns. The rest of the colours are embroidered by hand (a fantastic collection, consisting of similar dresses with no less than a thousand pleats is on display at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris).
The darling of the aficionados and one of the most prolific designers in the service of Hermès, Aline Honoré has delighted us yet again with a design inspired from far-away lands, equally fascinating and mysterious. She chose to depict the dress in all its splendour, spread across a surface suggestive of another type of fabric design that the Miao women choose to wear tied around their legs, whose patterns of squares and lines are also representative of their culture. Reminiscent of the Brazil design of the previous season’s collection in the dress display, the similarities between the two designs stop here. The background is simple so as to allow the dress to shine. A truly beautiful – artistic, creative, sensible display worth the glory the Hermes silk twill brings to it.