The French luxury house Hermès was founded in 1837. In 1937, one hundred years later, the design of the first Hermès scarf was introduced. The scarf, also named Carré which means "square" in French, was based on a woodblock print by Robert Dumas, the son-in-law if Emile Hermès. This design, called the "Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches", was made from 100% silk from China. The silk was first spun into yarn, and afterwards woven into fabric and screen-printed. The scarfs are still produced in France in the same manner: silkscreened by hand, and hems hand-rolled and hand-stitched. No wonder it takes up to 6 months to produce a scarf. But, this level of perfection is reflected in the quality and cost of the scarfs and is also one of the characteristics of a real Hermès scarf. If a scarf has machine or messy stitching in the hem, it shouldn't be trusted.
"Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches" by Robert Dumas (1837) and "Brides de Gala" by Hugo Grygkar (1957) designs - Pinterest
The designs of Hermès scarfs
The design patterns of vintage scarfs can range from more popular to very classic motifs. Think of equestrian, military and nautical, but also think playful botanical, natural and mythological themes. The designs are always crisp and will use bright colors. On average, close to 27 colors are represented on one Carré scarf. Hermès works with freelance artists who design the patterns, and they're all known for their particular style. Some of those designs of particular designers are sought-after or have a high value or status. Scarfs designed by Hugo Grygkar and Robert Dallet for example have achieved a highly collectable status. The most famous design is one by Hugo Grygkar, which is the "Brides de Gala" (1957). Good to know: most scarfs have their title somewhere in the design, and will often future the signature of the artist.
Since 1937, over 2.000 individual scarf designs have been created. And it doesn't stop there: Hermès releases additional designs on a seasonal basis. Nowadays, the scarf is available in new sizes and materials. As a tribute to the old designs, Hermès re-releases 5 old popular scarf designs every year in different colors, making them a limited edition. However, some designs were only made once, which makes them rare and sought-after.
How to take care of your Hermès scarf?
If you want to freshen up your scarf, it's best to visit a professional dry cleaner. Keeping the scarf folded, out of sunlight and in it's original box with the acid-free paper is the best way to store it. Avoid wearing your scarf on a rainy day as the silk may be damaged by contact with any type of liquid. Next to this, don't wear any scarf clips or rings that might pull a thread. After you've worn your scarf, don't fold it right away to store it. Leave it to breathe overnight, and then store it.
Hermès scarfs folded in their original boxes and a Hermès scarf framed as painting - Pinterest
Definitely worth the investment
The Hermès scarf has long been proven to be popular and has been worn by the most famous and influential people. Think Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Queen Elizabeth and Madonna, just to name a few. The scarf is very versatile and can be easily adapted to any style. Even today, the scarf is still very popular with both young and older generations, both men and women. But as our good friend the Internet shows, people also frame their old Hermès scarfs as home decoration. The Hermès scarf holds its value far better than any other scarf on the luxury vintage market. It might be a little investment, but if you take care of your Hermès scarf properly, it's a timeless item you will keep forever.
Written by Machteld van der Does