The making of Hermès scarves

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On me: Hermès carré scarf, twilly, bucket bag, necklace

(Making-of photo credits to Hermès )

Colors and patterns are never strangers in fashion, especially scarves. The techniques and designs of such fine crafts have always been my interest. I have a chance to study the history, design inspirations, and the making-of scenes of Hermès scarves, which are made in their factory in Lyon, France.

Do do you know who gets to determine the design and color combos of each piece?


: Designers of the ingenious squares :

Who designs the scarves? The first ever scarf was designed by Mr. Robert Dumas (as seen above) in 1937. Directing the house of Hermès, he loved designing but could not realistically do everything. So he called on talented specialists for collaborations, such as Hugo Grygkar, who was to sketch the famous Brides de gala in 1957.

And today, Mr. Pierre-Alexis Dumas carried on his grandfather’s tradition, as the artistic director of the Hermès group. He sets the aesthetic theme directions and co-create the carrés with in-house colorists. See below for the making-of processes of these intricate Hermès carrés, from weaving, color mixing, engraving, printing, to sewing. It truly inspires me as a designer myself that such crafts take patience, time, and concentration to achieve good results. This might be a long post, but it is definitely something worth sharing!


: Silk Weaving :

All raw silk materials and weavings are completed in a family owned Brazilian mill, who supplies “flottes” (skeins of raw silk) to the Perrin establishments, who have been weaving silk for Hermès for half a century. The processes are:

  • reeling of the skeins of raw silk
  • weaving
  • degumming

 

: Color Creation :

After receiving a general design direction from Paris, the coloring team in Lyon explores the color combinations on the neutral-colored squares. The team consists of 6 women, representing 6 schools of styles and imaginations.

  • receive sets of vocabularies of each design from Paris, which are guidelines of the “stories” the colorists work on for each scarf
  • with the 40 basic colors and a chart of 75,000 hues, they imagine and create color combinations
  • color mixing and cooking in their “kitchens” to produce exact hue
  • record formulas for each color tested, including proportions of pigments and binder
  • submit proposed color schemes to Paris
  • about 10 harmonies are selected for production

 

: Engraving :

Once the harmonies are confirmed for each design, engravers receive life-sized (90X90cm) hand-painted mock-up on card. Their job is to separate this mock-up into films for each color appearing in it. The steps below explain why a simple 30-color design consists up to 600 hours of engraving.

  • engravers trace each color on a transparent film with the mock-up bent over a light box
  • use Indian ink and a quill for fine outlines
  • use gouache and brush for the blocks of color

 

: Printing :

Traditional silk screen printing methods are used for the carrés, which takes precision and skills to carry out.

  • each film (or each color) corresponds to a frame (a metal chassis over which a polyester gauze is stretched) over the silk fabric that it will print on
  • a layer of photo-sensitive gelatine is coated on top, blocking areas precisely  that are not supposed to be printed in the specific color film
  • the gauze is exposed to strong UV light to harden the gelatine
  • upon completion of all frames, mass printing is conducted at the printers’ table at Ateliers A.S. near Lyon
  • rolls of silk twill are unrolled, stretched, and adhered over the tables, measuring almost 150 meters in length
  • the printing frames are applied one after another, leaving a new colour behind after each frame passes
  • printing starts with the the outline pattern, then filled in via the colour screens, from the smallest to the largest areas, from dark to light tones
  • colors are fixed by steam cooking at 103°C for an hour
  • they are washed to draw off the residue of glue and unfixed colours
  • drying is carried out by laying flat on a hot air carpet
  • cutting

 

: Hem Finishing :

This final operation, which gives the Hermès carré its unique rolled hem, the “roulotté”, is done by hand.

  • seamstresses finely roll the edges of the scarf
  • using silk thread of an identical colour to that of the border to create a hem on the right side
  • final quality inspections

See how my friends appreciate their Hermès carrés here!

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As a daughter of an entrepreneur and being one herself, Grace has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as 7 years of crafting content to G Edition, her very own edition of experience sharing in work and travel. She is a full-time bag designer and manufacturer, part-time traveler, and a lover of creative crafts.

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