Today Hermes’ Festival des Metiers opened to the public at 583 Park Avenue. In the venue, there are different sections where you will find artisans producing different Hermes products — from leather goods such as the famous Kelly bags to watches, from shirts to saddles, from crystal stemware to neckties, and of course those highly collectible silk scarves.
The scarf section was set up to replicate the workshop in Lyon—where Hermes produces all their silk products—albeit in a smaller version. The table at the venue only makes two scarves. The one in Lyon makes 100. Each scarf is silk screen laboriously and meticulously. For the particular scarf being produced on the spot, the craftsman Henri had to used 14 silk screens to produce one finished product (some require as much as 46 screens). Step by step, he created the design in stunning colors starting with a blank white silk. He worked on the outline and all the other details and nuances of the design per silk screen, adding each different color with every silk screen. He started with the smallest motif and worked his way to the biggest such as the background and border colors. If there is a little imperfection on the scarf such as dust, that scarf will not make it to the selling floor. So if he were to make a mistake on the 14th step or if dust suddenly landed on the scarf on his final step, that scarf will not be sold, making his day’s work futile. The table at the venue was heated allowing the colors to dry almost instantly. This is not the case at the atelier where the scarves are hung to dry for a couple of hours. Then these are put in a steam bath to let the colors settle then dried again. Then they are given a finishing treatment to make them soft and to give them luster.
Some trivia regarding the Hermes scarf:
The first Hermes scarves were produced in 1937.
They were produced in Lyon because Lyon is famous for its silk screen process called Technique a la Lyonnaise.
To make one Hermes scarf, you would need 300 silk cocoons.
The four edges of the scarves are rolled 1 cm backside in to hem them. This back-to-front hemming is called French hand hemming. The reverse is the Italian way.
A seasoned seamtress can hand hem one scarf in 40 minutes.
Visit the Festival des Metiers will be on exhibit at 583 Park Avenue until September 9.
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