See who's behind the luxury giant's scarves du jour... as we reveal a postal worker that has a rendezvous with fashion!
In the early 1980's, Kermit Oliver (a descendant of African-American cowboys from Refugio County, Texas), became the first American artist commissioned by French fashion house Hermès, to design a series of one-of-a-kind scarves.
(fine art painters, Katie and husband Kermit Oliver)
According to wikipedia.org, the Hermès scarf debuted in 1937 and quickly became a part of French culture. During the accessory's creation process, raw Chinese silk is spun into yarn, vegetable-dyed and woven into fabric twice as strong/heavier than most scarves available today. Each scarf's commissioned artist (exclusively chosen by the house), spends at least 12 to 24 months in pre-production, researching a particular theme selected by Hermès, before a design becomes complete. In addition, based on information sourced from Hermès' Profile of a Scarf, the house generally issues about 24 total carré (scarves) per year (12 each season), with about six 'new' and six 're-issued' colour ways produced for fall/winter and about six 'new' and six 're-issued' colour ways for spring/summer; which, since 1937, would bring the house to a total of about 1,752+ designs made in its 73 years' history of Hermès carré.
In Oliver's case, according to online fashion personality 'Grands Fonds' (via purseblog.com), she says, "there are many great stories behind the artists, many people apply to Hermès with a design, and then are selected, and some are 'kept on' by Hermès. Oliver was originally a postman... and the story goes from there!" More interesting is the fact that before he became a USPS (United States Postal Service) worker, Oliver -in 1966- studied under legendary painter Elaine de Kooning (wife of artist Willem de Kooning), and in 1967, he obtained a B.F.A. Composite Degree & Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from Texas Southern University; outside of Hermès, Oliver's artwork has been shown all over the world, both in solo and group exhibitions:
(Kermit Oliver- "Adonis")
(Kermit Oliver- "Primavera")
(Kermit Oliver- "Resurrection")
So, it's not as if Oliver waltzed in off the streets of Paris, Texas to Paris, France... his talent is well placed. Here's a look at each of the exquisitely-created scarves that Oliver has designed for Hermès throughout the years:
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- L' Indien 1984)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Faune et Flore du Texas 1987)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Kachinas 1992)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Les Ameriques 1992/1993)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Les Cheyennes 1993)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- The Pony Express 1993/1994)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Naturalia 1994)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- La Danse des Indiens 1999)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Les Mythologies des Hommes Rouges 1999/2000)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Madison Avenue 2000)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Rodeo des Cowgirls 2001)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Tsitsika (Tuituika) 2002/2003)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Samuel de Champlain 2006/2007)
And, to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthday in 2007, Hermès -once again- tapped Oliver for the job:
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Marquis de Lafayette 2007)
(Kermit Oliver for Hermès- Concours d'Elégance, Limousines de Voyage 2009/2010, but first shown in the 2002 Hermès carré booklet)
Moreover, cryptomundo.com reported on Oliver's reaction to designing the famous 'Lafayette' scarf, he said, "I tried to keep the documented colors in terms of the costumes that were worn at the time... for both countries [red] was a very important, symbolic color." The site further stated, "Prominent on the scarf is an image from Jean-Baptiste Le Paon’s painting Lafayette at Yorktown, in the Lafayette art collection. Lafayette stands clutching his sword by his side in his left hand and pointing with his right hand. Holding the reins of his horse is the slave James Armistead, renowned for his service as a spy behind enemy lines who helped bring about the American victory at Yorktown.
"Rising from the bottom border of the scarf are images of the Marquis as a young man and as the aging hero during his Farewell Tour of the United States in 1824-25. Depicted on the border, in cameo images, are Benjamin Franklin and presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. Also depicted are Simón Bolívar, the 'George Washington of South America,' who led revolutions against Spanish rule, and Toussaint l’Ouverture, a former slave who led the Haitian independence movement. George Washington is shown on horseback fronting a 13-starred American flag and one of the many arches erected in his honor during the Farewell Tour. A map of North America showing the original 13 colonies serves as a backdrop in the main portion of the scarf, partially obscured by two golden, winged figures, which Oliver says appear in the War Drawing Room at Versailles."
In addition to Hermès, Oliver has collaborated with corporate entities such as KPMG, and The Dallas Museum of Fine Art (Texas), and in 2009, 13 of his Hermès scarves were framed, hung and displayed as visual art, inside the halls of the Refugio County Museum (Houston, TX).
* Video (Kermit Oliver, Refugio County Museum exhibit)
www.google.com, www.hermes.com, www.luxury-scarves.com, www.theperfectredbox.com, www.kermitoliver.accela.jp, forum.purseblog.com, www.mysoutex.com, www.veoh.com, www.cryptomundo.com, www.hooksepsteingalleries.com, www.tfaoi.com, en.wikipedia.org