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My Hermes scarves

7 July 2010

I love my Hermes scarves. But in order for silk scarves to work as (slightly more) masculine accessories I think they need to be both dark and low on contrast.

Classic polka dots or stripes are different – they can get away with higher contrast, as can simple geometric patterns. For more elaborate designs the colour palette needs to be subtler. It’s a similar logic to tie patterns: bigger, illustrative figures like paisleys need restrained colours to avoid being brash. It’s one reason madders work so well – the matte quality of the treated silk can bear more flowery designs.

Such designs are not that easy to find at Hermes, despite the ample ranges they bring out every season. The sample book may be as deep as it is wide, but there are few subtle combinations in there. When there are muted options, the designs tend to very simple and, well, a little dull. The carriage logo, perhaps, or a geometric pattern of Hs. Not exactly inspiring compared to the Russian country scenes or intricate globes elsewhere. The Rhythm of China range this season is a case in point – there are subtle grey and beige options, but the pattern is geometric and dull.

The two scarves I own, shown here, are a couple of exceptions. Au Fil de l’Inde, the first design, is a classic blue with a subtle, winding design showing escalating sand dunes – all drawn with a single line. When tied at the neck, there is little obvious difference to a regular, linear pattern. Just a touch more interest.

The second, Brides de Gala, is a fairly classic Hermes design of equestrian equipment. But the dip dye technique makes the colours muted and the contrast low. Aubergine, navy and a dull gold. There’s no lack of interest but nothing jumps out at the eye. The current range of dip dye scarves offers nothing so understated.

I normally wear the scarves tied in a square knot under a round-necked sweater, or in a bigger, triangular wrap to fill the gap in a jacket. They can perform the role of a neckerchief or a proper scarf, but are more individual than both.

If anyone has any recommendations of designs that are still in circulation, please let me know.