Saturday, May 7, 2011

Collection SS2006: Chemins de Garrigue

I caught wind of the upcoming scarf designs, so as we're waiting to admire - and feel - the actual scarves in the boutiques, I thought of paying hommage to the talented artist Christine Henry, whose newest creation will be featured as part of the Fall/Winter 2011 collection (this is in addition to the "Nuées imaginaires" - "Imaginary Clouds" - from earlier this year).  

This prolific artist is recognized for her intricate designs that reflect snapshots of both ordinary and extraordinary life, illustrated in a manner that makes you feel as if you hold an entire miniature universe in your palms (or wear around your neck, for that matter).  Her "rives fertiles" ("fertile rivers"), included in Hermes' "water"-themed 2005 collection, caught my attention in a profound way, turning her into one of my favourite drawing artists.  The fascinating aspect of her work, however, is that she succeeded in growing over the years, exploring various styles (as captured on the 17 designs of hers that Hermes has featured over the years) that appear quite disparate from one another.

Today's "Chemins de garrigue" ("Paths of the shrubland") has been created in the same style - a style that infuses, in addition to dynamism, a tasteful richness and spectacular elegance into this scarf that only a handful of designs can boast.  Because the scarf's "footprint" is a square, the shape itself is static.  To compensate and infuse energy into a scarf, artists use specific techniques - "tricks" known only to craftsmen and women who've mastered the trade.  One of the more obvious techniques consists of developing the designs along the square's diagonals.  An alternative technique is Christine's approach to imagine curvy paths across the landscape, rather than straight lines.  The winding paths take the explorer on a journey of discovery, inviting you to notice all the details along the way (as opposed to straight lines, where your sight is automatically drawn towards the point terminus of the "journey" and therefore presenting you with the risk of missing everything else surrounding the path).

The inspiration behind this scarf springs from the calcareous plateaus of the Mediterranean shores - the "garrigue" - punctuated by dense thickets of kermes oak,  juniper and stunted holm oak.  Aromatic lime-tolerant shrubs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, wild thyme and Artemisia are common plants of the garrigue landscape.  Calling this shrubland home are sheep, donkeys, rabbits, reptiles and snails alike - examples of which are graciously captured on canvas.

What's interesting is that Hermes' choice of colour combinations to illustrate this design - soft blue, soft pink, rich yellow and black, to name just a few - is very similar to "Nuées imaginaires" from Spring/Summer 2011.

This scarf is not only beautiful, it is utterly elegant, promising a great many heads turning to admire both it and the person sporting it ! 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Collection SS2011: Concours d'Etriers

I'm seizing on two important events - the timid arrival of spring and the Canadian Federal elections - to feature a scarf that echoes the former in colour and the latter in spirit.

Concours d'etriers (Stirrup Contest) depicts many of the stirrups discovered by Emile Hermes from lands close and far-away, and diligently added to his personal collection, one of the many manifestations of his admiration of everything related to the noble horse.  Another account of some of the stirrups was gracefully captured in the classic "Etriers" scarf that I featured on December 31st of 2009, so I won't insist on the items; instead, I thought it appropriate in light of the Canadian political parties undergoing a contest themselves, in which the de facto leader of the country - the Prime Minister - is to be chosen.  As a metaphor for the political landscape, the number of stirrups, and their proximity to each other, make it rather difficult to distinguish and appreciate the individual features and - hence - the beauty of each piece.  That is because their number dazzles us; we train our eye to seek out the pieces that somehow stand out - the larger sizes or those of brighter or darker colours.  Yet we must quickly develop a "plan of attack" to evaluate each item based on its own merits in order to pass an opinion on which one deserves the top prize - a difficult task, naturally !  Fortunately, the beauty of the collection rests not in the impressive number of items that makes it, but in every piece being carefully selected for its inner beauty - through his intense work and discriminate eye, the collector has done the evaluation for us, thereby helping us tremendously!  The question is whether the Canadians will be as passionate and as discriminate as a true connoisseur to choose wisely.

Finally, a word on the arrival of spring (or its hide-and-seek play).  The trees in Toronto have finally bloomed (remember, it is May already!) and the sight is absolutely marvelous.  The joy triggered by the rebirth of nature is without limits and I've been experiencing this sentiment fully over the last week.  I can only imagine what the coming days will surprise us with !

Until then, there's a wonderful surprise in this very scarf design: the way the scarf ties is unexpected and quite beautiful.  Similar in spirit with the "Voyages en etoffes", perhaps the the most delicate example in this scarf is the one depicted below, with a combination of blues, cream and light brown for a truly magic effect.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Collection SS2011: La Ronde de Jockeys

A lovely design originally released under the "Ascot 1831" name in 1969 before being reissued once before (AW2004) under its current "Jockeys Round" name. It illustrates twelve mounted jockeys transposed in such a way as to fit within a circle.

I was drawn to this design by the very bright and vibrant colours that infuse a very young spirit into this traditional pattern (take, for instance, t
he knotted scarf below, whose baby blue and orange - one of my favourite combinations - give a young vibe despite the traditional pattern featured in each of the four corners).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Collection SS2011: L'alphabet des métiers

A memorable scarf that takes us on a nostalgia path to our childhood and rekindles the passion each of us had for collecting - stamps, rocks, hats, airplane models, and (naturally) cards.  As a tribute both to our childhood pastime and to the artisans (the theme of this year's collection), Hermes has reissued "the Alphabet of Trades", illustrating the craftspeople and their trades, matching one of each for each of the twenty-four letters, such as: "Benoit is a baker" and "Pierre is a painter" (I invite you to find Hermes').

This design was launched in 1945, and reissued in 1991 before this year's three more colour combinations.

This design renders the scarf a little traditional, although the many ways of wearing it can easily make is as contemporary as any other.