Saturday, February 20, 2010

Collection SS2010: Les Dômes Célestes

One of my favourite designs is entitled "les domes celestes" ("the celestial domes"), whose patterns have an intrinsic harmony despite the apparent randomness of the forms depicted in it.

As I came to discover and appreciate, many microorganisms mirror large ones that can reach spectacular dimensions - such as a human hair, which, under a powerful microscope, reveals striking similarities to a tree trunk - so it is not surprising (rather I find it fascinating) that the individual elements of this design are suggestive of the shells of exotic marine creatures, despite the celestial suggestion of the title.

Yet, on closer inspection, this pattern reveals a mystery that even the initiated eye is in for a big surprise.  This scarf pays tribute to the architects, engineers and builders whose imagination, courage and perseverance in overcoming some of the highest technical difficulties produced legacies of utmost, arguably divine beauty.  The design depicts eighteen cupolas - ceilings of chapels and palaces from around the world.  The initiated eye can identify the dome of the Saint-Paul Saint-Louis church in Paris, the new synagogue of Szeged in Hungary, those of the great mosques of Cordoba and Constantinople, the church of Saints Peter and Paul in Krakow, and even the audacious triple dome of the sanctuary of Valinotto, near Turin.

This scarf ties wonderfully, with the pattern revealing wonderful asymmetrical shapes, which are further enhanced by the "threads" that enrich the design, suggestive of a festive setting where such "threads" are hung from the ceiling in an elaborate decor.

This colour combination in particular is quite impactful.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Collection SS2010: Fairytales

Expected with a great deal of anticipation and renewed hope, the Spring/Summer ("SS") 2010 collection was received with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the new designs stirred the admirers and collectors of the Maison's silk creations alike; on the other, many felt the scarf designs have fallen short of the "timelessness" test.  Instead, the followers' opinions, shared by me as well, echoed a single strong sentiment: that with few exceptions, based primarily on colour combinations rather than the patterns themselves, the individual creations were reminiscent of previously released designs, and meant to appeal to tastes beyond those of the loyal Maison followers. Is the Maison attempting to appeal to a younger generation ? Or should we celebrate instead the endless creativity that Hermes is recognized for, even when such attempts may not elicit the anticipated reactions ?

Today's post features the scarf pattern that imposed its theme - and title - to the entire collection: "Fairytales". The design, suggestive of a children's drawing, brings together the many characters that filled countless children's (and parents') evenings while fueling their imagination.  Some may argue that the characters depicted in this design are the ones that became children's intimate friends and have remained loyal to them throughout their lives.  Fascinatingly enough, these tales set strong examples in every child's mind, thereby instilling the society's and parents' values from an early age, and in this respect, preparing the audience for life in an engaging, yet psychologically safe, journey of discovery.

I find the pattern very busy, and while the pastel colours are soothing, I find the scarf's appeal is diluted by the heavy and convoluted design.  I would even go as far as saying that the "drawings" in their entirety are somewhat aggressive, bringing a certain tension to the overall design, in stark contrast to what I'd expect to see in children's books.  It would definitely fit the "fantasy" pattern, where the elements coexist all at the same time without necessarily being linked by either time or activities... fantasy perhaps reflective (and defining) of the entire collection.  Yet I don't anticipate this design to be one of the many sought-after ones that their beauty and appeal have turned them into desired collectibles.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Collection SS2006: Regarde Paris

I have introduced several days ago a magnificent scarf that illustrated the Maison's legendary establishment at 24, rue du Faubourg St.-Honore, as perceived through a kaleidoscope. Today's post features an equally enchanting view captured on canvas, as perceived through a telescope.

The instrument, believed to have been invented by Hans Lippershey in the Netherlands in 1608, has been improved the following year manyfold by Galileo Galilei (considered the father of modern science thanks to his remarkable research, discoveries and inventions in the fields of Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy and Philosophy). It is thanks to the telescope (or spyglass) that objects far into the distance can be seen at arm's length ("Science has eliminated distance" as Gabriel Garcia Marquez famously wrote in "100 years of solitude"... and the character Melquiades wittily proclaims: "In a short time, man will be able to see what is happening in any place in the world without leaving his own house").

Issued in 2006, "Regarde Paris" ("Watch Paris") is an invitation to discover the City of Lights. The scarf zooms in on the soul of the city - l'ile de la Cite - the name of the larger island on the Seine where the first documented settlements occurred.

While the image is lovely, one can discover, upon closer inspection, that the illustration is created by thin lines suggestive of a pencil drawing, which, on its own, would render those particular details perhaps too abstract when the scarf is worn or even folded. The white inner corners however bring a visual balance to the scarf when knotted, and this particular colour combination of orange, white and black, is a lovely "piece de resistance" in anyone's collection.