La Fabrique de la Soie, Lyon France
You might know the video of the ‚Fabrique de la Soie‚ by Hermès which was directed by Craig McDean, the young woman in the short film is let loose in the Hermès atelier, in search of the secrets behind the creations of the house’s famous silk scarves. A graceful gander into the world of a fashion legend. When Hermès asked if Julia and I would be interested to step behind the scenes too we immediately replied with a YES. There was no need to re-think the decision. A honor to get into the world of silk – Hermès is to us as a synonym of precision, discipline, highest craftsmanship, value, quiet luxury and art. The experienced hands in the atelier, the passion and discipline the artisans put in each single stitch to ensure the quality of Hermès is breathtaking and a experience that I will never forget. The artisans are aware of the sense of touch, being able to stitch with closed eyes, being able to represent themselves and the object that they are making in space, being able to listen to what their hands tell them. It’s Lyon, where we have been positively moved to tears.
Did you know that it takes actually two years to create the design of an Hermès Carré? And did you know that the Hermès Tie has been the anchor of respectable business suits since its introduction in 1949? The perfect result is a mixture of high technology, unique manufacturing and experienced artisans. Flaws of any possible kind are not accepted – the artisans eyes and hands double, tripple check every production step. Hermès does not let imperfect work leave the atelier. The two year process of an Hermès Carré is a solid, steady and well-practiced routine of the colorists, engravers, printers and craftsmen who work for Hermès in Lyon, the traditional city of Silk in France.
Kamel Hamadou, the communication manager of Hermès Silk kept on emphasizing the key ingredient to the success of Hermès products – passion on the part of the people that work for Hermès who are often long-serving and enduring. The colors in a Carré design are traced meticulously using different tools such as a quill, pencil or an electric pen to fill out the outline the the areas. The most exciting discovery was the silk printing table where the silk twill is stretched out over the table and fixed with an adhesive so that it doesn’t move during the printing process. One by one, the frames are applied with their corresponding color, beginning with the outline pattern and then filled in colors, working from the smallest to the largest areas and from the darkest to the lightest of tones.
Words by Sylvia
Photography by Sylvia & Julia // Guests of Hermès
The raw material of silk itself. Hermès have their own silk farm facility out in Brazil. Just to mention: 300 cocoones = 1 silk scarf. The silk is then woven in Lyon exclusively for Hermès in 150m rolls to be stretched out on the printing tables. But there are differences from other silks on the market when it comes to the silk quality. The silk that Hermès uses is evident from the touch of the silk, the strength of the silk twill and the threads that you can see at the fray.
Seamstresses use a single piece of thread per Tie and hand-stitch the larger panel into the smaller one. The back to the Hermès Tie is as nice as the front, handmade and a unique piece of art.
The cutting and making of the Hermès silk tie is also made here as a part of the silk product category. From the precise hand-cutting to the sewing of the lining and then the hand-stitching of the folds of a tie and ensuring that there’s a special look of knotted thread inside tie tie as a mark of authenticity.
Communication Manager of Silk Kamel Hamadou explained during the private tour in Lyon that it is a French Tradition to gift a Hermès Tie to the Male Family Member who actually graduate. I like the idea of gifting a symbol of quality and value to a young man who plans to work in the finance industry. Something that I truly admire about Hermès – quality, creativity, time and the craftsmanship. Quality takes time and that is Hermès and their greatest weapon. The Ties are all handmade. Look inside a Hermès Tie and you will find the unique loop knot inside.
“If you don’t come here, you can’t understand,” Hermès’ Lyon-based communications manager Kamel Hamadou says. “There is knowledge in Lyon.”
History, too. The Lyonnaise silk industry was already centuries old when Robert Dumas-Hermès, great grandson of the house’s founder, first came here in the 1930s. Now town and company are as tightly woven as warp and weft.
To understand the prize you have to understand the process, the quality, the craftsmanship behind the Hermès Carré. The first Carré was made in 1937. Most designs start with a paining of a motif …the beginning of the artwork. The unique contribution lies in keeping faith in a business model that prioritizes superior quality and never compromises on craftsmanship.
In total as mentioned before the process of the Hermès Carré can last up to two years. Following a meticulous design process, involving the design concept, to engraving, to printing, the scarf is hand finished – including forty minutes to hand roll. Each creation tells a unique story and most bear the signature of the artist responsible for printing the scarf.
The color creation – after receiving the designs from Paris, the coloring team in Lyon explore the colors and do the following steps; receiving sets of vocabularies of each design from Paris, which are guidelines of the ’stories‘ the colorists work on each Carré. They imagine and create color combinations with 40 basic colors and a chart of 75.000 hues. To produce the exact hue they have to mix and cook the colors in their coloring ‚kitchen‘. Recording formulas for each color tested, including proportions of pigments and binder. Submitting proposed colors to Paris.