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.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Collection SS2016: Dragonflies

One of my most beloved artists commissioned by the Maison to mesmerize us, Leigh Cooke is proposing in 2016 a poetic, lighter-than-light touch in a vintage format, design that conjures a flutter of dragonflies and damselflies, those most ethereal, fairy-like insects.  The latter bear a close resemblance to their cousins, but their bodies are narrower, and they carry their wings folded upright above them when they alight on a surface.  

The artist’s studio stands beside a pond surrounded by flowers and reeds.  

The endless ballet of these fragile Odonota (their scientific name) was the inspiration for this composition, rippling gently like the water’s surface.  

Leigh Cooke began the watercolour after a dragonfly flew right into his studio.  While he was at work on the picture, another – the biggest he has ever seen – settled on his windowsill as if to watch.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Collection SS2016: La Marche du Zambeze


I thought I'd start right away with the first in Hermes' new spring/summer 2016 scarf collection - a new design that's meant to mesmerize you with a refreshing design, and which is sporting very fresh colours.

At the centre of La Marche du Zambeze, a majestic elephant symbolises family and power.  Around him are gathered the creatures of his kingdom, the great river lands of the Zambezi: giraffe, zebra, leopard and crocodile trace its course from the savannah to the delta marshes.  The river’s flora is silhouetted all around the composition, off-setting the rich patterns of python and crocodile skin. 

Ardmore is a collective of Zulu, Zimbabwean and Sotho artisan potters, founded by Fée Halsted in 1985, 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 – namely that we each exist thanks to others. This carré marks the beginning of a new collaboration between the collective, and the house of Hermès.