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The Artists Behind the Infamous Carré Hermès

The Artists Behind the Infamous Carré Hermès

The Artists Behind the Famous Hermes Carre Silk Scarf

Everybody seems to know Hermès – the Birkin bag, the Kelly bag, the silk scarves. What many people do not know is the close ties of the Hermès brand with artists. As I mentioned in my article “The Hermès Scarf Explained”, the Maison has collaborated with over 150 artists from all over the world to bring more than 2,000 carré designs to life. These artists deserve the spotlight, they have created more than just beautiful scarves, let’s explore some selected artists, their artistic styles and language and what their design contributions to Hermès stand for.

You can also watch my video here:

Hugo Grygkar

Hugo Grygkar, the premiere artist of Hermès, was born in 1907 in Germany. His family was Czech and moved to France in 1914. Grygkar became the primary designer of Hermès and co-created the first carré “Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches” together with Robert Dumas (which I have covered here). He worked for the brand until his death in 1959. In addition, he worked as a commercial artist and created posters and illustrations for Vogue magazine, amongst others.[1] 

The first Hermès silk scarf “Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches” was designed by Hugo Grygkar and Robert Dumas.

Grygkar closely worked with Robert Dumas and his major inspiration came from the private collection of Émile-Maurice Hermès. His designs are appreciated for his ability to capture details and the depth of the field engaging the viewer. Furthermore, his work involves humour and wit – for example Lettre de Napoléon à Murat d’après Caran d’Ache (1947).[2] 

“Lettre de Napoléon à Murat d’après Caran d’Ache” (1947).

Grygkar is also the creator behind the infamous “Brides de Galas”. Launched in 1957, it is among the most celebrated carrés showing Hermès’s equestrian roots. Its details are very intricate and it features two ceremonial bridles – the one with mermaids is again from Émile-Maurice’s collection and was made for the Mexican Emperor Maximilian I. This design was reissued multiple times.[3] 

“Brides de Galas” is one of the most celebrated Hermès carrés.

Further important works by Grygkar include “Cavaliers Arabes” (1951): The Arabian horse is considered one of the most elegant and respected breeds. In the central image, the carré shows an Arabian horse with its rider. This image is surrounded by twelve further drawings. “Vue du Carrosse de la La Galère” (1953), also called “La Reale”, is based on the flagship of the French gallery corps in the fleet of Louis XIV which was built in Marseilles in 17th century. “Les Oiseaux des Champs et des Bois” (1954) is a beautiful carré with colourful birds.[4]

Philippe Ledoux

The Artists Behind the Famous Hermes Scarves Longchamps Ledoux Detail
Detail of “La Promenade de Longchamps” by Philippe Ledoux

Born in Sheffield in 1903 to French parents, Ledoux was hired in 1937. Previously, he studied at the Académies de Peinture et de Dessin in Paris and later joined the British Army to fight at Dunkirk and became a painter for the French navy. His style is photorealistic and he designed 90 carrés for Hermès.[5] 

“Cosmos” by Philippe Ledoux.

Among them are “L’Océan” (1959), “Napoléon” (1963) and “Cosmos” (1964). The latter is one of the most popular designs of Hermès and has also been reissued multiple times. An astrolabe with ornamental décor forms the centre, the background is the night sky. In each corner, there is a reference to Greek mythology with the sun god Apollo driving his chariot pulled by four horses.[6] 

“La Comédie Itallienne” by Philippe Ledoux is a reference to the Italian “commedia dell’arte”.

“La Comédie Italienne” from 1962 is a nod to the Italian “commedia dell’arte”-type of theatre. These plays often tell the story of two lovers who have to overcome obstacles to get married.[7]

Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, Cassandre 

The infamous “Cassandre-Scarf”.

The Ukrainian-French painter was born in 1901 and his work was strongly shaped by Surrealism and Cubism. His carré design “Perspective” from 1951 is even called “Cassandre-Scarf” and “Littérature” (1952) was reissued in 2010. Mouron’s work was not limited to Hermès: he was also the creator behind the famous “Yves Saint Laurent”-logo.[8]

Henri de Linares

“Plumes” was by Henri de Linares in 1953.

Henri de Linares was known for his deep analysis of hunting trophies and his still-life drawings who have a lifelike quality. “Plumes” (1953) is a beautiful example with feathers.[9]

Kermit Oliver

The Artists Behind the Famous Hermes Scarves Kermit Oliver Detail
Kermit Oliver for Hermès

With his symbolic-realist style, Oliver became the first American artist to work for Hermès. His designs are full in meaning and he connects modern and classic themes, religion, mythology and history. He is as strong believer in storytelling.[10]

Kermit Oliver, “Pani La Shar Pawnee” (1984)

His design “Pani La Shar Pawnee” (1984) shows the chief of the Pawnee People, a Native American tribe who was exiled from Nebraska and Kansas to the territory of Oklahoma. This central character holds a peace pipe with a carved horse. Horses are also featured in the border of the scarf and they were inspired by the drawings of artist Karl Bodmer.[11] 

Kermit Oliver, “Fauen et Flore du Texas” (1986)

In 1986, he designed “Faune et Flore du Texas” and intricate illustration for the 150th anniversary of Texas. The border alone depicts 50 local species. In 1970, Oliver was the first black artist with a major solo exhibition in a gallery in Houston. Oliver designed 20 carrés for Hermès.[12]

Vladimir Rybaltchenko (signed as Rybal) and Dimitri Rybaltchenko

“Les Cavaliers d’Or” by Rybal (1975).

His designs are some of the most popular classics such as the “Les Cavaliers d’Or” (1975) with a detailed depiction of gold ornaments. His son Dimitri also became a designer for the Hermès carrés. His “Noel Au 24 Fabourg Hermès” was issued in 11 colour schemes. Released in 2004, it shows the House of Hermès in a snow globe.[13]

“Vif Argent” by Dimitri Rybaltchenko.

In 2007, Dimitri Rybaltchenko designed “Vif Argent”. As its French name suggests, it is quicksilver and it seems that it is dripping from the Hermès logo onto the scarf. It almost looks like 3D and, on the one hand, it can be interpreted as a reference to Émile-Maurice Hermès – his nickname was “Quicksilver”. On the other hand, mercury is another term for quicksilver and could be seen as a reference to the god Mercury, the god of trade, language and diplomacy. He was the Roman equivalent to the Greek god Hermes.[14]

Annie Faivre

Annie Faivre’s style is described as “Art Déco”-influenced.

Annie Faivre has created over 40 scarves for Hermès. Her style is colourful and features abstract shapes with a “hint of Art Déco”.[15] Her carrés always have a monkey hidden in the design. This stems from the artist’s childhood nickname “Little Monkey”. A famous carré is “Circus” (1982) – the composition feels like a kaleidoscope and there are lions and tigers, trapeze artists and colourful circus accessories such as large balls and hoops. Futher examples are “Sur Un Tapis Volant” (2006) which looks like an antique Persian rug and “Chemins de Corail” (2016).[16]

Bali Barret (Marie-Amélie Barret)

Collaboration of Hermès and Liberty London under Bali Barret in 2009.

In 2003, Bali Barret, whose real name is Marie-Amélie Barret, designed a capsule collection. After presenting her work to Jean-Louis Dumas, he liked it so much that she ended up creating many more designs including a special one with dots cut by a laser. When his son Pierre-Alexis Dumas took over the position of creative director after Jean-Louis’s retirement in 2006, Bali Barret took over the lead artistic development of the women’s silk programme which means that she was responsible for the production of thousands of scarves. She is also known for the collaboration with Liberty London in 2009. Together with this British master of prints, she created a signature carré which merged Hugo Grygkar’s “Ex Libris” on a signature Liberty floral print as backdrop.[17]

Virginie Jamin

What looks like a dotted pattern turns out to be Mexican dancers in Jamin’s “Belles du Méxique”.

Jamin created “Belles du Méxique” (2007) – at first sight, it looks like a pattern of dots but a closer look reveals that it is a bird’s eye view of Mexican female dancers twirling in their dresses. The centre of the scarf is a dancer accompanied by four male dancers wearing sombreros.[18]

Ardmore Artists

Ardmore Artists aims at preserving heritage.

Ardmore Artists is a studio set up by Fée Halsted in 1985. She worked with South African artists to preserve heritage. “La Marche du Zambèze” from 2016 is the first of many collaborations to follow and shows an elephant surrounded by other animals and plants. The scarf’s graphic border reminds of mosaics.[19]

Marsal and de Gueltzl

Hermes Faubourg Tropical by the French artist duo Marsal and de Gueltzl.

The French duo of Octave Marsal and Théo de Gueltzl created “A l’Ombre des Pivoines” in 2019. Colourful peonies invade and take over a city in black and white. The details look like pen etching. “Faubourg Tropical” (above) turned the iconic Hermès flagship store into a colourful tropical rainforest. [20]

Alice Shirley

“The Three Graces” by Alice Shirley.

The UK illustrator started working for the house in 2012. In 2022, she designed “The Three Graces”, three giraffes behind acacia trees. Shirley aims to highlight endangered species with her work and to show people how beautiful they are – almost as if she immortalised them.[21]

Alice Shirley’s mission is to highlight endangered species with her designs.


Footnotes

[1] Coleno 2010, p. 18, Graves 2023, p. 25-26 and 76.

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] Graves 2023, p. 76.

[5] Graves 2023, p. 26 and 82-83.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] Graves 2023, p. 30.

[9] Graves 2023, p. 80.

[10] Coleno 2010, p. 45, Graves 2023, p. 32-33 and 88.

[11] ibid.

[12] ibid.

[13] Graves 2023, p. 30 and 90.

[14] ibid.

[15] Graves 2023, p. 32.

[16] Graves 2023, p. 32 and 86.

See Also
Who Was Miss Dior The Brave Life of Catherine Dior Title

[17] Graves 2023, p. 40.

[18] Graves 2023, p. 92.

[19] Graves 2023, p. 95.

[20] Graves 2023, S. 96.

[21] Graves 2023, S. 99.


Sources

Ancient Origins 2023

Nadine Coleno, Le Carré Hermès, München 2010.

Laia Farran Graves, The Story of the Hermès Scarf, London 2023.

Hermès Official Website


Disclaimer

This article is based on the personal, views, experiences and research of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the organisations and people mentioned above. 


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