By Chere Di Boscio
We’ve all become a bit spoiled these days.
Digital technology has allowed for the mass-printing of intricate designs that were once the reserve of highly trained artisans. Prints that used to be silk screened by hand are now printed by computers, and only the well trained eye can tell the difference. Though this is certainly a more democratic approach to apparel, it seems to be a bit of a shame to be losing the art of silk screening.
Some companies, such as Hermes, insist on maintaining the ancient technique for their scarves. Each silk square boasts hand finished edges, double ply Mulberry silk and dozens of colours applied by hand. After an artwork has been designed, pencils, paintbrushes, pens, sponges and even toothbrushes are all used by master artisans to break the picture down into its composite colours, then reproducing each layer on its own acetate sheet.
It can take up to 1700 hours to complete one scarf, which is why such scarves are expensive–but the precision drawn, vividly colourful result is worth it. Even worn vintage pieces are still very much in demand, and no wonder: each could be considered a reproduced piece of art much in the same way etchings or photographs are, and as with fine art, the value of some prints only increases with age.
Sadly, because of their value, there is another quality Hermes scarves share with art–there are many Hermes fakes to watch out for. Here’s what you need to look out for.
How to Spot a Fake Hermes Scarf
According to expert Catherine B, there are five key signs of a fake Hermes scarf:
1. A fabric tag written in any other language besides French and English. All Hermes scarves are made in France, but often carry a bilingual tag–English is the only other language you may see.
2. A real, original Hermes scarf will have a hand rolled hem, rolling towards the front (the more vibrant side of the print). The thread for the hem should perfectly match the main colour of the scarf.
3. Whilst some vintage scarves may not carry it, most scarves today (and from the 80s onwards) will have the artist’s signature somewhere in the print.
4. There are three sizes of Hermes scarves: 90 cm x 90 cm, 35” x by 35”, 60 x 60cm 24″ x 24″, and 40cm x 40cm 17″ x 17″. That is it! Anything outside this range is likely to be fake.
5. One of the easiest way to spot authentic Hermes scarf is the incorporation of Jacquard silk (slightly 3D compared to the rest of the scarf). This is difficult to replicate; no fake scarf will use Jacquard silk.
6. Look for the name. There should be a copyright “©HERMÈS” mark with the “C” in a circle with the word Hermès–NOT “Hermes-Paris’. Again the second ‘e’ must have a French accent mark. The copyright is usually located on the upper left hand corner of the scarf.
Of course, Hermes is not the only scarf brand to make art meticulously on silk–one of our favourite brands is Emma J Shipley, who Taking her inspiration from Victorian botanical drawings, Greek mythology and evolution, Shipley’s painstakingly detailed designs are drawn by hand before being transferred onto the purest of sustainable materials. Nature features prominently in her work, and for us, seems to send a message of the interconnectivity of all living things.
She’s recently created a line of silk women’s wear, in conjunction with award-winning designer Teija Eilola. Stunning silk blouson style tops, shorts and a playsuit all feature, and are all cut in a flattering and loose-fitting styles, decorated with Shipley’s classic Amazon print in neutral tones.
We’ve also discovered another British brand that we love, not only for its botanical designs, but for its dedication to saving the species illustrated on its silk, such as bees. Sparrows Green Studio is a London based scarf design brand whose founder and designer, Kate Palmer, takes inspiration from nature, visual illusions and kaleidoscopic prints. All the scarves are designed using Kate’s pencil drawings, and though she does use hand silk screening techniques, she also digitally prints some, too.
Insects and wildlife such as birds, fish and stag beetles are the typical themes printed onto silk chiffon and habutai–so it’s not wonder that Palmer, who has worked as a textile designer creating prints for major fashion houses including Donna Karan, Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, Armani Exchange and Ralph Lauren–is a keen supporter of wildlife conservation.
She has created a bee scarf in aid of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and has just launched a new scarf in aid of the Bat Conservation Trust.
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