The First designer of the Silk Scarf-Carré for Hermès
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The silk scarf (carré de soie) introduced in 1937 by Hermès, is one of the emblems of Hermès. Nowadays, one of these timeless pieces sells every thirty minutes around the world.
Following the launch of the first fragrance in 1936, Hermès created in 1937 the first scarf to celebrate the 100th anniversary. The idea of creating and promoting scarves comes from Robert Dumas, son of Emile Dumas, who became the president of the house of Hermès. Because he was surrounded by talented designers he was able to quickly convince his father about this idea of producing Hermès scarf-carré, indeed the famous carré, was born.
It was just before World War II. Wedged between the development of the automotive industry and the constant crisis after the Great Depression, the harness workshop betted his survival on the diversification of his productions.
It is in this context that Hugo Grygkar designed the first memorable carré for Hermès, “jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches”.
At the same time, inspired by men’s fashion, Coco Chanel had made a big revolution in women’s fashion. For this new sober and simple style, the scarf was a perfect accessory. Having the wind in his sails, Hermès has succeeded in creating fashionable scarves.
Chelsea Vintage Couture offers a large selection of Hermès scarves for sale online. All our scarves have been cleaned, they are in very good condition in its box. Global shipping is available or collection for free in Chelsea.
Hugo Grygkar not only designed the very first silk carré for Hermès but he also became the most prolific artist for Hermès. Thanks to Hugo Grygkar, the father of the Carré Hermès that today we, lovers of carrés Hermès can enjoy wearing them year long.
Who is Hugo Grygkar
Hugo Grygkar was born on December 9th, 1907 in Munich to a Czech family. He grew up in Germany where from an early age attended the studio of his father, who was a tinsmith and bronze sculptor. In 1914, his family left for France and settled first in Brittany, in Lannion, and later on in the Parisian suburbs. In his youth, Hugo was a diligent artist and an avid reader, who also loved to write. A very private and modest person, Hugo kept his education somewhat of a mystery but he most likely attended l’Academie des Beaux-Arts and then the Studio La Ruche in Paris. In 1939 along with his father, Hugo joined a special corps in the French army made up of Czech volunteers. Although dismissed after a few months due to kidney disease, this commitment helped him obtain French citizenship. He married in 1942 and two years later had a daughter, Beatrice.
After the war, in a difficult economic environment, in addition to designing scarves for Hermès, Hugo Grygkar also worked as a commercial artist and as an illustrator, producing movie posters and some drawings for magazines such as Vogue.
Many of the carrés he designed during the forties were created in the tradition of the great illustrators. Maxims, proverbs and aphorisms come to life in playful ways. Hugo with his great sense of humor created carrés that are in complete contrast to the hard times of the war and the immediate postwar period. Already from his very early designs, Hugo expressed that innate sense of composition and harmony that will continue throughout his entire body of work.
The artistic alliance between Hermès and Hugo Grygkar would last over 20 years. Particularly, Hugo Grygkar designed many masterpieces, which would be reprinted many times for posterity.
From classical paintings to modern graphics, Hugo Grygkar style is various and difficult to summarise. In short, his style is worthy of pioneer, who marked the genesis of the Hermès carrés.
Ex Libris Hermès
The Ex Libris scarf was created in 1946 and it beautifully reflects his keen ability to create balance and clarity in a composition. At the center is the now so famous bookplate, that Emile–Maurice Hermès had created for his personal library in 1923 (basis for Hermès logo carriage to this day). Surrounded on all four sides by horse-drawn carriages, inspired by ink drawings from the private collection of Emile-Maurice. Designing from the outside in, Hugo focused first on the outer parts of his designs, which were often very complex and detailed, and only subsequently creating the central motif, leaving empty areas in between. He never signed any of his work.
Hugo Grygkar became the primary designer of Hermès Fashion House. In that role he was also a regular contributor to the window decorations of the Maison Hermès at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris. While designing the carrés, Hugo worked in close collaboration with Robert Dumas, who would guide him in the choice of the subjects, drawing on his abundant private art collection as well as that of Emile–Maurice Hermès.
The inspiration would come from sometimes ordinary objects like the bookplate, from books, artifacts and paintings. Both private collections became a source of wonder and inspiration for Hugo, whose designs often reflected their eclecticism. Once a theme was decided upon, Hugo quickly sketched proposed concepts that Dumas would chose from. Both men shared a deep mutual respect and a common focus on detail and excellence of the overall design. It was Hugo’s, modesty and amazing flexibility that allowed him to adapt to the demands of Dumas. In his perpetual quest for perfection, Hugo did not hesitate to get a live rooster for the design of carré Combats de Coqs (1954) or a real zebra skin for what became La Chasse en Afrique (1957). He created more than one hundred drawings between 1943 and 1959.
Carried away by his great curiosity, his sources of inspiration and themes were very varied. His carrés not only reflect the history, but helped create and shape the identity of the Maison Hermès.
Floralies, which became part of the collection in 1959, would be his last design. Hugo Grygkar died in February 22nd,1959 due to kidney disease from which he suffered for a long time. Shortly after his death, Robert Dumas described him in his diary as “a valuable contributor to the creation of our carrés, a deeply religious man, honest, modest and full of talent,” a big contributor to Hermès scarves success story.
Grygkar’s influence on the ‘Hermès carrés’ and Hermès was profound and his legacy lives up until today.
Below is a list of Hugo Grygkar’s other timeless amazing silk carrés
Jeu des Omnibus et Dames Blanches, 1936
Plaques à Sables HERMÈS, 1948
Chevaux d’Après Van der Meulen HERMÈS, 1951
À La Gloire De La Legion Étrangère, Hugo Grygkar, 1951, 1963
La Réale Vue du Carrosse de la Galère 1953
Otan, Nato, 1956 – Limited edition
The story behind this NATO scarf
This NATO scarf, designed by Hugo Grygkar, depicts a globe carried by two horses, topped by a sandglass. The sandglass is a reference to the passing of time and the lasting nature of the Alliance, while the horses symbolise the two sides of the Atlantic. The flags of the NATO member countries appear on the equatorial ring around the globe, while the insignia of NATO Commands feature on the outer rim of the scarf.
This scarf was commissioned in 1956 to be presented during the North Atlantic Council meeting of 13-14 December at Nato Palais de Chaillot Headquarters in Paris. This was a limited edition that did not exceed 300 scarves, which were either donated or sold to NATO employees-personnel and to NATO Delegations.
Le Bois de Boulogne Hermès, 1957
Brides de Gala Hermès, 1957
Panache & Fantaisie HERMÈS, 1959
Quai aux Fleurs 1952, 1957, 1990