Oct 9, 2013

Hermès Does Golf: Scarves, Bags & An Impressive Place For Putting


Hermès is known across the globe for its colorful carrés de soie. 

Coveted by fashionistas of all ages, the sumptuous silk squares are an enduring symbol of French fashion finesse, and when you consider that, A. they're still individually hand crafted, and B. the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons is required for each scarf, the several hundred dollar price tag seems... if not affordable... understandable.

Since 1937, Hermès has produced over 25,000 unique designs, a number of them featuring golf. In 1968 there was "The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf" a charming traditional design. A few years later came "Les Balles de Golf", which, despite its assertive golf theme, is probably my least favorite Hermès design ever.  It's basically just a couple of hundred hyper-realistic white golf balls on a colored background.  Sure, the golf balls are artfully rendered... and the background colors are ultra-pure, but it has none of the frothy detail I've come to expect from la maison Hermès.  My absolute favorite Hermès design is Swing Pictured above, it was  introduced in 1979 in several color palettes.  It's geometrically modern, but with a definite nod to the regal designs of the past... and of course it's all about golf.

Long before the introduction of its silk scarves, Hermès was known as a purveyor of fine leather; bridles and saddlery, then handbags and leather clothing. In the early 1900s the company secured exclusive rights to use the zipper (a revolutionary new invention) in leather goods and clothing. They then introduced the mechanism in a leather golf jacket they made for the Prince of Wales. Through the years Hermès has created some unique golf bags and accessories, always in limited quantities due to the company's insistence on individually handcrafted quality.  Earlier this year, when the 2011 presidential gift list was released, it was revealed that then French President Nicholas Sarkozy had presented US President Barack Obama with a "large black Hermès golf accessory bag" valued at $7,750. The revelation made hyberbolic headlines.  Unfortunately, no photos of the controversial bag seem to be available but I'm guessing it looked like the one pictured at left.  Only better.

Finally, if you happen to be a golfer with an appreciation for the art of Hermès, and you happen to find yourself in New York City in the coming days, you'll certainly want to try your hand... and your putter... at the Hermès mini golf course.  It's an implausibly awesome installation where the greens are orange, the flags are Hermès scarves and the holes are Hermès enamel bracelets.

The course is part of "Les Jeux d'Hermes" and can be found at the Hermès pop-up shop currently located inside The Shops at Columbus Circle.  Other amazing activities include a horseshoe an enamel bracelet pitch, a very special hopscotch game and the "Silk Bar" which looks like a 1950's diner and offers a menu of elegant scarves, ties and jewelry.  There's even an app, Silk Knots, that presents the myriad ways one can wear a carré de soie.

Like the game of golf, Hermès has at times been perceived as stodgy and inaccessible... and like golf, the venerable company is reaching out to new, younger consumers to assure future growth.  Going forward, it'll be interesting to see what works... and what doesn't.

1 comment:

  1. I love the colors on that scarf. I was lusting for a Birkin bag too till I realized they were way beyond my budget.

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