It was 1937 when Robert Dumas, the son-in-law of Hermès scion Emile Hermès, created the first in-house silk scarf design for the then 100-year-old luxury marque: a design he called “Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches.” The artwork was inspired by an antique board game in Hermès’ personal collection, and invited the eye to examine the scarf’s intricate detail, continuous circular movement, and colorful, immersive world. It sparked a long-lasting lineage of busy, breathtaking motifs fabricated on pure silk and contained in a simple carré (“square” in French), which over the years have borrowed from classical portraiture, cartography, Pop Art, the Bauhaus and traditional, equestrian-inspired Hermès motifs.
83 years later, that brand’s scarves still possess the same depth of narrative and top-notch quality for which Hermès is known. “Whole stories unfold across the surface of this square silk page,” explain Nadine Coleno in her book The Hermès Scarf: History and Mystique. They’re also created with the same care and attention as a piece of fine art: According to the Wall Street Journal, it takes roughly 18 months to take a scarf from design concept to finished product; up to six of those months are occupied with color adjustment alone — never mind the cutting and hand-finishing of the rolled edges. When it came to choosing the most premium products for the sky-high aspirational category of our Extra Gifted holiday gift guide, the Hermès scarf was an obvious choice.
This year, we chose “Acte III, Scene I, La Clairiere,” a tropically-colored vignette created by 35-year-old Edouard Baribeaud, a Franco-German artist who infuses his illustrations with the centuries-old tradition of detail-rich miniature painting. In his dazzling multi-dimensional design, he depicts a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The scarf is created from a sumptuous, winter-friendly blend of silk and cashmere, and retails for a cool $1,125. Even if this piece is going to remain permanently on the wish list, it’s truly a living, breathing, wearable work of art, and has just as much of a place hanging in a frame on the wall as it does hanging in your closet.
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