Sunday, November 23, 2008

Musings On Thanksgiving & How Hermes Scarf Madison Ave. By Kermit Oliver Relates to My Thankful Musings

Many people in America will celebrate a special holiday this week. Our children in school have been learning all about the "pilgrims" who came to this great land, and stopped for a moment in time to be grateful, and to share and show their gratitude with the Native American people who now permitted them sanctuary on these shores.

Looking back over this past year on my personal life, and the lives of people across this vast land I realize that for many thinking of things to be grateful for may prove very difficult this up coming Thursday. But I am reminded of words my mother continued to speak almost daily during her last year as she lost her battle with cancer.

I would be driving her to her chemo therapy appointments and she would suddenly turn to me as we looked out and enjoyed the changing leaves of fall on the trees planted on the parkway we took the medical center. She would turn and say "You know DeNice, we are very blessed...", and I would always stop and think for a moment how strong she was to be going through what she was enduring, and to still see each new day as a day filled with blessings of some sort if we but opened our eyes.

All over the world finances are in turmoil, people who saved lifetimes are now watching stock markets tumble to the ground. People who worked for most of their lives for major companies are now either without a job, or worried that the doors will close tomorrow. People who realized the dream of home ownership are now watching those dreams fade away to dust. People with children are worrying how will they continue to to keep them clothed, fed and housed. And many will ask themselves "Thankful, what can I possibly be thankful for???"

In 1620, a group of people left the only home they had ever known, aboard a ship to travel over 3000 miles to a land they had never seen. Their trip was perilous, the sea was beset by storms. They did not turn back. When they landed, on these shores it was the middle of winter. Many were already very weak from their hazardous 2 month voyage. The local Native people shared their knowledge with people who today would be called "illegal aliens". They helped them to survive, to flourish, and to establish the beginnings of what would the first of many colonies to come. Colonies which would develop into the land that I call home today.

This great land has gone thorough many changes since those days, some for the better, and some we as citizens have lived to regret and to learn from the mistakes made all along the way. But we are blessed, we are blessed that those early pilgrims did not turn back, we are blessed that they felt led by faith to make the journey, we are blessed that they were befriended by a people whom they could not even communicate with, we are blessed that those living here first allowed them to live amongst them.

And today we are blessed, because we still have leaders who have asked to lead, who will not give up, we are blessed because others in history traveled to this land also to make it what it is today. We are blessed because today technology, connects us to others far far away and makes the world seem smaller. It is for all of this and much much more I will be grateful this Thanksgiving, I will be grateful for all of those who came before so that I could live so blessed.

Kermit Oliver's Madison Ave. to me speaks to the rich bounty of this great land, the flowers, the animals, the people, those here now, and those from the past. The title when standing alone, may speak of material things, but Oliver's painting makes us realize what is truly valuable. He contrasts true wealth, with what is perceived wealth or bounty. He leaves it up to us to decide.

I hope you enjoy the video exploration, and I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving

The song is a Native American piece called "Mahk Jchi (Heartbeat Drum Song)"
Written by Pura Fe, Soni, Jen. Saponi translation by Lawrence Dunmore. Performed by Ulali: Pura Fe, Soni, Jen. Album: Music for the Native Americans

Saponi translation:
Mahk jchi tahm buooi yahmpi gidi
Mahk jchi taum buooi kan spewa ebi
Mahmpi wah hoka yee monk
Tahond tani kiyee tiyee Gee we-me eetiyee
Nanka yaht yamoonieah wajitse
The words translate to English as:

A hundred years have passed Yet I hear the distant beat of my father's drums.
I hear his drums throughout the land.
His beat I feel within my heart.
The drum shall beat so my heart shall beat.
And I shall live a hundred thousand years.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Les Amazones A Musing

It never ceases to amaze me that it is true that if something is meant to be it will come to pass, and that wonderful things are worth waiting for. A few years ago, my Aunt and I had lunch with some fellow scarf collectors. A very dear to me "sister in silk" had chosen to wear a wonderful caramel Les Amazones. My Aunt and I were really taken in by this design and the coloring. Ever since then I had tried many times to find one or win the bid on one, and was never sucessfull. Well recently I was united with one and it still has the same effect on me now as it did a few years ago. Below is a video exploration of the scarf. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Musings on a non Hermes Scarf Design, "Flora" by Gucci designed by Artist Vittorio Accornero

"Flora" patterned shawl design by Vittorio Accornero for Gucci

As I have said before, it is the artist and the intricate designs that draw me into the love of scarves. I do believe that it is very hard to find a match to the quality of workmanship that is present in an Hermes scarf, but there are other companies with long histories that have quality pieces which display equally wonderful designs. One of those companies is Gucci particularly the designs commissioned to artist Vittorio Accornero.

Vittorio Accornero born in 1896 in Casale Monferrato (Italy), Accornero's work debuted as an illustrator; after the first world war under the pseudonym Victor Max Minon. Under the name Minon, Accornero would become well known and win many awards for his illustrations of children's books, posters and illustrations for cruise lines (ie. menus, and advertising). He would also collaborate with his wife at the time Edina Altara. All of this happening before the 1930's.

In 1934, Accornerno and Altara would divorce and go their own separate yet very successful ways in the art world. Accornero continued to illustrate children's books most notably editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson, Pinocchio, and Shakespeare. He would also claim fame in the world of theatrical set design for movies, opera, and stage.

And so it should come as no surprise that when Rodolfo Gucci would go searching for the best artist to design a new line of scarves for the world renown House of Gucci, his choice would be none other than accomplished artist Vittorio Accornero.

The story goes that Hollywood actress and later Princess, Grace Kelly one day entered the shop of Rodolfo Gucci in a bit of a panic for a last minute gift for a friend who was getting married. She desired to purchase a floral scarf. Gucci had nothing in a floral design at all. Much of the shops textiles consisted of coarse materials for bags and bag linings, and other sturdy accessories.

In 1965, Gucci wanting to pay homage to the then Princess Grace, commissioned Accornero to design the now famous "Flora" pattern to honor the princess because she had a passion for flowers.The design itself a botanical piece consisting of 37 different colors within the design. Intricately dispersed among lilies, carnations, daisies etc. there are also butterflies, dragonflies, lady bugs and various other types of small beetles.

Flora was an instant success, and surpassed all sales records within the United States. Still today more than forty years later, has become a beloved and sought after design by collectors all over the world. Gucci resurrected the pattern in the early 80's and placed it not only on scarves, but bags, shoes, ready to wear pieces, and luxury items for the home.

Most recently in 2004 Frida Giannini then design director for Gucci's accessory line, once again resurrected the Flora design on handbags, wallets and other Gucci accessories. And once again with overwhelming success the pieces sold out rapidly making Flora again much sought after by collectors.

2004 Billboard Add for Gucci's re-release of "Flora" design

in their bags and accessory line

Accornero did other designs for Gucci's line of scarves. His work is most notably recognized by the inclusion of fanciful insects hidden throughout the piece.

However not all of Accorneros prints include insects. There were many floral patterns done after the original "Flora" they are easily recognized as Accornero designs by those who admire his work. Most of all of his pieces for Gucci printed as silk scarves include his famous V. Accornero signature.

Gucci used the "Flora" design in ready to wear resort type wear and wool shawls. Those pieces do not carry the Accornero signature, but are easy to recognize. The original "Flora" design is distingished in that it includes tiger lilies as one of the flowers in the design.

A summer dress from the Gucci line done in the "Flora" pattern

Circa 1980's and not signed by V. Accornero

Accornero died in 1982, but he lives on in his beautiful designs, that although rare can be found on other fabulous Gucci pieces other than scarves.

Gucci Tea set in "Flora" pattern signed by V. Accornero

There is one internet reference that states that Accornero also designed for Hermes. I have never been able to verify this, and in all of my collecting I have never seen any Hermes pieces done by this artist.

Now Open

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Musings On Impose Ta Chance

Rene Char (1907-1988) was called the greatest poet of all time by writer
Albert Camus .
He was part of the surrealist movement, among his contemporaries were
Andre Breton, Paul Eulard, and Pablo Picaso.

His poetry emphasized hope in the face of struggle, which would later serve him well
in his efforts as a resistance leader against the Nazis in WWII.
Artist Valerie Dawlat-Dumoulin takes words from a poem by Char for her design,

Impose ta Chance.

A line from one of Char's poems is quietly inscribed among the rocks of this design.

The words read:

"Impose ta chance, serre ton bonheur et va vers to risque. A te regarder, il s'habitueront"
Loosely translates to:

Impose your luck, use your good will and to your risk,
a look at you they will get used to.
I take that to mean that we are what we dream,
we must dream big, believe in ourselves and others will believe in us.

This past year has had historical depths not just for our county but for the world.
Many people need hope in the face of struggle during these times.
The past few months have been no different, we have all been a part of
historical moments, that will be discussed for generations to come,
long after we are gone.

This next week may just prove to be among one of the most
defining moments in this nations history.
And so I dedicate the musings on this particular design
to the week that lies ahead.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Musings On The Muse Of Annie Faivre's Rencontre Ocean

There is a new aquarium in San Francisco at the California Academy of Arts and Sciences. The underwater displays are all updated placing the observer, deep in the midsts of the undersea world. Recently one particular exhibit looked very familiar, and then I realized that I was viewing the living contents of the central portion of Annie Faivre's Rencontre Ocean. I wonder where she was when the muse for this design struck her?

Here I have overlayed a picture of the habitat at the aquarium in San Francisco over a picture of my Rencontre Ocean. Viola! The undersea world of Rencontre Ocean.

Discovered A Wonderful Blogger Today...

Ok that is a fib, I had found Eric Tenin the friendly Parisian's blog "Paris Daily Photo" a while back. It is delightful. Eric features a new photo everyday taken somewhere in and around Paris. And friends, he even takes requests. So for those of you who like me love living through other people's lenses, or maybe you need your "Paris Fix" until the January 2009 Hermes Paris Sale. Please visit Eric's Blog at

Below is my most recent favorite for very obvious reasons.

The ominous sky reallty matches the mood of the sky here today in the Wine Country, as we go through the first really good rainstorm of the season.

Now Open, But Still UnderConstruction

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Musings On Things That Warm My Heart...Besides The Contents Of Orange Boxes

Sometimes it is just nice to stop and ponder on all of the things in life that I am grateful for, the things that warm my heart, the things in life that make me smile, the things in life that I am just glad are part of living this life, things I love:

The aroma of a freshly made cup of Earl Grey Tea.

The sweet sensation of its bergamot on my tongue.

Old quilts, especially the one that belonged to my mother.

Good books with good writing that draws me into an experience I would not have had otherwise.

The chill in the air at the sea, when it is moist, and breathing it in tastes sweetly salty.

Early, frosty winter mornings, when I can take a cup of tea and get into the hot tub, watch the sun rise, and raccoons as they steal across the yard on their way home from a night of foraging.

Movies that make me laugh so hard my sides hurt, and tears run down my face.

The sight of fog on the Golden Gate as I enter the city from the north, and I can look up and see the towering spans peeking out above the billows.

A really good cup of chocolat on a cold night with the lights out, and only candles and a soft fire lighting the room.

Watching the squirrels run outside the big front window, shaded in spots,

yet still lit by the sun.

Old film noir, on rainy days where the color of the sky matches the colors on the screen.

The colors of spring as it bursts forth here in the wine country, the new green on the hills, the young leaves on the vines, the daffodils growing along the Valley of The Moon Highway.

Smooth stones washed by the sea, sitting with shells in clear glass bowls.

Spiced cider, when the color of the leaves all around me are russet,

and a chill is nipping at my nose and cheeks.

The feel of cashmere against my skin, soft, making me feel calm and serene.

The night sky in the summer, when it looks as if someone tossed diamonds as high, as high as they could throw.

Sitting at my favorite restaurant on the square, at an unusual hour of the day. The patio doors open, and all the bustle is on view in front of me. While behind me the room is quiet,
and staff prepares again for the rush time.

The first rain, the sweetness it leaves in the air.
The sculptures I have that my father made,
because they were touched by his hands, and love was left behind.
The smell of a new Hermes scarf or shawl.
The feel of the silk when pressing and finishing a scarf.
Old things that if they could talk and tell you where they have been,
would speak of dreams and joys, held and had by others from another time and place.
The silence of snowfall.
Saturday afternoon movies with my friend,
and we are bundled up in comfy clothes,
with cups of chai and popcorn.
Friends those special people who really know who you are,
and forgive who you are not.
Cheese, all types, all forms, and in many things. Like
omelettes with fresh garden herbs, and mushrooms.

Handmade things, that the person put part of their being into the craftmanship.

Opening Soon

Opening Soon

Opening Soon

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Musings On "Le Geographe"

In 1992 Hermes issued a design by artist Sandra Laroche titled appropriately enough "Le Geographe". The scarf takes it's title from a French ship bearing the same name. Le Geographe was a 30 + gun corvette, originally commissioned the Galatee. Her name, as well as the name of the sister ship which would accompany her were changed right before the historic expedition she would undertake.

Captain Nicolas Thomas Baudin
Captain Nicolas Baudin had appealed to General Napoleon Bonaparte to be allowed to command a scientific expedition which would conduct a scientific examination of Terres Australes ( Australia) and possibly find an opening for a French settlement.

The Institute of National France sponsored the expedition. On October 19, 1800 Captain Baudin left La Harve, France with two ships the Geographe, and the Naturaliste. There were approximately 100 people aboard each. There were 23 scientists aboard each of the ships, astronomers, geographers, mineralogists, geologists, hydrographers, gardeners, botanists, zoologists, and a pharmacist. There were also portrait, natural history and landscape artists on board. Each discipline had two or three representatives that were spread between the two ships.

Francois Augustine Peron

Among the many scientific professionals under Baudin's command was a zoologist trainee by the name of Francois A. Peron. Peron had saught to join Baudin's expedition after a tragic end to a love affair. He had wanted to serve as an anthropological observer, instead he was appointed zoologist trainee, later in the voyage his position would be elevated to a prominent position of sole zoologist after others were lost along the voyage due to death and desertion.

Historically Peron would become famous for documenting the voyage after the death of Captain Baudin. But most importantly with the help of fellow shipmate, artist Charles Alexandre Lesueur, Peron gathered over 100,000 zoological specimens. The most comprehensive Australian natural history collection to date.

Charles-Alexandre Lesueur

Charles A. Lesueur was employed for the main job of illustrating Baudin's log books. As the journey progressed Lesueur became more of a specialist in drawing animals. This is because he became very close friends with the zoologist Péron. Péron was disliked a great deal by Baudin and made many enemies during the voyage. However, he and Lesueur became firm friends. Under Péron's guidance, Lesueur learnt the art of taxidermy, and the skills for trapping and hunting animals. At other times Péron would dance about and play the fool to distract the Indigenous Australians while Lesueur sketched them. Lesueur also learnt from Péron the importance of colour and paying particular attention to detail. Apart from completing drawings of many animals, he produced a variety of landscapes often including aspects of Indigenous Australian culture.

On July 18, 1801 similar expedition had set sail from Great Britian.

Matthew Flinders

Having been given command of the vessel "The Investigator" Matthew Flinders set sail with a group of scientists, his orders were to chart and map the coast of Australia.

On December 6, 1801, Flinders reached Australia at Cape Leeuwin, and proceeded to begin surveying Australian coastline moving southward along it's shores.

On 8 April 1802 while sailing east Flinders sighted the Le Geographe, a French corvette commanded by the explorer Nicolas Baudin. Both men of science, Flinders and Baudin met and exchanged details of their discoveries, at what would later be named Encounter Bay.

This design is a jacquard. Hermes no longer produces jacquards supposedly having found them too expensive to produce today. When you wear a jacquard the designs woven into the silk catch and reflect the light. In this case kangaroos, and anchors dance and vie for the right to shimmer in the design.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Musings on Jonques Et Sampans

One should never spend too much time with a scarf that one is thinking of culling from their collection and selling, it just might not end up where you had planned.

So the story went with my best laid plans of this morning. I have had Jonques et Sampans for sometime now and not worn it. I kept thinking that I would but then did not and it kind of sat there with the others never saying a word until today.

I would love to know what inspired famed french illustrator Françoise de la Perrière; when he mused upon the design "Jonques et Sampan". Had he actually taken his in his inspiration while viewing Junks in their original setting in some far off Asian setting, or had he been inspired by the artwork of another such as shown in the ancient Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock pictured above.

I actually spent quite a lot of time traveling in the Orient, while I lived in Japan. The massive floating hulls of the Junks are a sight to be seen. That was what had originally drawn me to this piece. Today I took a deeper closer look into its watery depths. I have always considered some of the other colorways of this design a bit garish, preferring the subtlety of this sea-glass colored version. I purchased it about the same time as I purchased a "Geisha" in a rather similar colorway. I realize now that I was reminiscing and missing my time spent in the orient and that is what probably prompted the purchase of both designs.