Saturday, July 25, 2015

Collection FW2015: Zénobie, Reine de Palmyre

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra from 266 to 272 AD, was a woman of tremendous character, often described as bold, ‘virile’, highly cultivated, and astonishingly beautiful, the inspiration for a host of artists and writers.  After the death of her husband Odaenathus, their young son became king in name only.

Zenobia seized power, taking the title Augusta or ‘Illustrious Queen’, and leading her troops on a vast campaign of conquest.  Syria, Egypt and part of Asia Minor fell under her rule, until the Roman Emperor Aurelius took fright, sacked the city of Palmyra and dispatched Zenobia and her son to Rome.  Located on the Silk Road, Palmyra was an important cultural center in the Antique world.  Textiles, jewelry, caskets, furniture and sculpture arrived there from Greece, Egypt, Persia and China.

Her treasure - depicted on this scarf - remained in Rome after her death.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Collection FW2015: Les Confessions

"Draw me a scarf": a pretty title for a competition.  In 2013, Hermès organized a workshop in association with ENSAD (France’s École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs) in Paris.  Students were immersed in the life of the house of Hermès and introduced to this year’s theme: la flânerie, that deliciously French art of strolling, aimless yet eager and aware, open to whatever comes your way.  

A concept evoked to perfection in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiographical Confessions: ‘J’aime à m’occuper de faire des riens… 

"I love to busy myself with nothing at all,

to begin a hundred things at once and finish none, to come and go as the mood takes me, to change my plans at each and every moment,

to track the haste and bustle of a passing fly, to heave a rock from the soil, merely to see what lies beneath…’

Three winning designs were selected in January 2014, including this playful, spirited, highly original scarf by Flavia Zorilla Drago: a spiralling dance of words and imaginative figures.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Collection FW2015: Balade en Berline

Hermès has long enjoyed a special relationship with France’s Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme, in Compiègne. Dating from the early 18th century, the Berlin carriage depicted here is one of the museum’s great masterpieces, inspiring Wlodek Kaminski to create a scarf revisited in this magically cropped design. Forced into a hasty getaway from Madrid in 1808, the Spanish King Ferdinand VII and his retinue chose this solidly-built vehicle rather than a lightweight, ceremonial carriage. Surprised by its ‘utterly Gothic’ appearance, the Prince de Talleyrand (the exiled King’s host at the Château de Valançay) wrote: ‘this obsolescent form had about it something of the obsolescence of monarchy itself.’ But the carriage’s epic journey didn’t end there. Abandoned after Ferdinand's departure, it languished at Valançay until the early 20th century, when it caught the eye of an antiques dealer, and finally a garage-owner. It was examined by the Musée de la Voiture’s Board of Friends (including Mr. Hermès himself) in 1936, but was judged too expensive, and was finally acquired for the French national collections in 1951.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Collection FW2015: Hippopolis

I haven't been as excited about a new design in a while now as I am seeing Hippopolis (City of the Horse).  Looking at the artist Ugo Gattoni's previous work, with which I had not been acquainted before, this image is uniquely identifiable to his style - a rich, byzantine story that magically blends animals - horses in this example - in inanimate objects - fantastic structures, scaffolding, terraces to form a dream-like world.

 A graduate of EPSAA (the Ecole Professionnelle Supérieure d’Arts Graphiques et d’Architecture) in Paris, Ugo Gattoni is a talented illustrator working for a wide range of publications, creating compositions characterized by his confident line and bubbling imagination, his love of large formats, and minute attention to detail.  Perfectly evoking Gattoni’s distinctive world, Hippopolis is a gigantic equestrian monument, an extravagant megalopolis populated by a witty cast of equine characters.

This mythical city, dedicated to the supreme leader - the horse - is (evidently!) inhabited by ... horses !  All around the premises - on the outskirts of this structure, in the gardens, hiding behind columns or seeing them fleetingly behind columns - give the lost traveler a sense of the impressive size of this wonder - if this were built in real life, it would rival easily the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Perhaps it is this curiosity that this scarf triggers in us, that of discovery, of understanding, of exploring - very fitting to this year's theme of flânerie.

Another detail that I love is the colour of the scarf's border - while the design may be monochromatic, the border, whether in bright colour or pastel, complements the scarf beautifully, giving it either a dramatic edge, or fresh life.

With a surreal, deliberately Escher-esque touch, the design conjures a host of curiously-arranged colonnades, not forgetting the iconic Hermès carriage and groom!

Worn, this scarf is brilliant.  A definite hit this season !