Luxury & Brands
Text by Avani Thakkar
If you thought Hermès’ design expertise was restricted to Birkin bags and silk scarves, think again because the family-owned maison has high-end products on hand to accessorise not just your ensembles but also your abodes. This season, Hermès’ home collection is an ode to the camaraderie between the joyful craft of quilting and cashmere.
The renowned label tasked American artist and designer Carson Converse with reinterpreting white cashmere through an undoubtedly Hermès-esque lens, and she met the challenge by embellishing the cashmere bed covers with lustrous golden thread. Known for her extraordinary talent for refashioning the form of a piece of fabric, Converse has hand-embroidered three exquisitely soft cashmere bed covers with intricate designs borrowed from Italian artist and Hermès’ long-time collaborator Gianpaolo Pagni. These creations are aptly named New Haven, Fall River and Williamstown, after North American cities that have strong connections to artistic quilt-making.
Verve speaks with Florence Lafarge, creative director of home textiles at Hermès, to gain exclusive insights into the ambitious collaboration with Converse and the meticulous craftsmanship that brought Pagni’s graphic artworks to life….
Image courtesy: Carole Bellaïche
Could you share the inspiration behind Hermès’ decision to incorporate quilting into this collection?
The idea came from the quilted covers that are placed under horse saddles to absorb the movements of the riders’ bodies. At Hermès, the comfort of the horse and the cavalier is an absolute priority, and for a long time we were looking for a way to bring this new textile language to the house. Particularly because horse riding has been historically linked with the house.
Image courtesy: Studio des Fleurs
Quilting is made up of two fabrics with padding in between. Its aim is to isolate [the user] from the cold, heat and shocks. Originally from India, this know-how arrived in England and then America during the 19th century.
With Converse, we developed these bed covers in quilted, natural white cashmere. They are embroidered with golden and white threads. Their dimensions and the number of hand-finished stitches demonstrate real technical prowess.
What about Converse’s work resonated personally and pushed you to approach the designer for a collaboration?
Converse is a young American interior designer, and we recognise all the precision and rigour of architecture in her textile creations. She lives in Massachusetts, near Boston, and seems to have inherited a regional cultural tradition as well as an acute sensibility towards art and family. Converse presents some remarkable quilted textile compositions on her website – she composes, assembles, patches and stitches the fabrics with meticulous precision and demonstrates the mastery of a designer, for whom creation and artisanal know-how are inseparable. We first got in touch via FaceTime! She immediately connected to this project of white quilt and timeless gold in cashmere for Hermès.
The three Pagni drawings were developed following three strong graphic principles: the square, the circle, and the triangle, initially multicoloured. Before sending the drawings to Carson, we erased the colours and redrew all the contours by materialising the surfaces with different woven pieces. The fleece’s material, defined according to the use of the bed cover, is made of soft and light cotton.
Images courtesy: Studio des Fleurs
The three models are reversible; they fold smoothly, the stitching work reveals the dimension, and with light, all the subtleties of the geometric drawings are entirely placed in the format. Each drawing has a specific background: quadrilateral, chevron and diagonal. Born out of several months of development and realisation, the monochrome pieces are perfectly sized for easy, durable usage and are also very functional.
How are Pagni’s designs in sync with the house’s and Converse’s styles? Take us through the process of translating them onto a fabric like cashmere through embroidery.
Pagni’s drawings are always surprising, and I discover his new graphic propositions with a lot of joy every time. I really like his artistic work; the abstraction and simple shapes correspond to a form of timelessness. I also appreciate his themes, typography, architecture and use of colours.
Image courtesy: Studio des Fleurs
His inspiration comes from his love for collections of images and objects, particularly image albums and series of drawings which can be made to interact with one another. This is why I like to produce these trilogies of objects “in fine”. This season, three sumptuous white bed covers in cashmere have been developed for Hermès home collection, a new textile vocabulary for the contemporary home.