Founded in 1837, the French luxury house Hermes began as a bridle and harness company for horses before branching out into luxury handbags and other accessories. Today, Hermes is one of the oldest and most valuable luxury companies in the world, known for its ultra-aspirational designer bags (Birkin bags, Kelly bags) and, of course, the legendary Hermes scarves.
The scarf made its debut in 1937, exactly 100 years after Hermes was founded. The design of the very first scarf was based on a woodblock drawing by Robert Dumas, a member of the Hermes family. It was made with imported Chinese silk which made the scarf twice as strong than any of the scarves available at the time and, thus, became an immediate hit.
Since 1937, Hermes has produced over two thousand silk scarves, all produced in an Hermes factory near Lyon, France. Given that Hermes always catered to the very rich, the scarf was quickly adopted by royalty and celebrities. It was (and still is) worn as a headscarf by Queen Elizabeth. Audrey Hepburn wore it in countless iconic photos and Grace Kelly famously used it as a sling for her broken arm.
But, the Hermes scarf has an allure that goes beyond celebrity. One scarf takes a full 18 months to complete, making it one of the most meticulously-crafted accessories in the world.
Here are some important, little-known facts about the production process of the Hermes scarf:
-Hermes hires artists to hand-design each scarf individually. Historically, designs have gone from traditional horse motifs to whimsical illustrations and everything in between. Scarves are so beautifully-designed that they are often framed and used as artwork on a wall. Once the design is complete, it is brought to a factory in France, where it is individually screen-printed.
-On average, each scarf has 27 distinct colors. The process – because it is hand-silkscreened – can take up to six months to do in completion.
-It takes roughly 750 hours alone to engrave the screens for printing (one screen per color).
-An Hermes scarf is made from the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons.
-The hems are hand-rolled and hand-stitched. This is, in fact, a great way to know that your scarf is authentic.
-With the exception of some limited edition pieces, the scarves come in three main sizes: 16″ x 16″, 36″ x 36″, and the largest size: 55″ x 55″. They are always perfect squares.
-For years, Hermes has partnered with the Tuareg tribesman of the Sahara and have used their traditional motifs in Hermes products. In fact, Hermes has a strong history of supporting artisans all over the world, including Mali, Pakistan and Brazil.
-If bought in limited edition, Hermes scarves can often go up in value.