I am often asked what people should buy when they go to the flea market. Of course I always answer “buy the stuff you love!”, but if the question is posed in more detail and if the buyer is worried about getting anything too big/fragile/precious home safely, then I often suggest they look out for vintage Hermès silk scarves.
What could be more iconic, more French, and more deliciously feminine than 36 square inches of screen-printed, hand-hemmed silk with the name HERMES printed somewhere on a border?! If you don’t want to wear it around your neck or shoulders, then tie it onto your handbag, or even frame it and hang the beautiful square as a work of art.
Hermès started off making saddles and bridles in 1837, and it took them a hundred years to print the first scarf. Today they sell thousands, hundreds of thousands probably, each packaged individually in the hallmark orange square box, and tied with a bow.
Of course, if you buy a vintage scarf, you may not get the box to go with it, but you’ll have had the thrill of the hunt instead, which in my book beats a box any day.
I recently found these two scarves on a stand in the dark (yep, I bought them by flashlight) pretty sure they were the real thing, but unable to be certain until daybreak.
I am not a scarf expert, but I do know that you need to be sure the hem is hand sewn, that Hermès Paris is printed somewhere on the scarf, and that for any scarf post 1950, it is also signed by its designer. In the case of my purchases, the one above has the name and the hem, but no signature – I don’t mind, it’s the one I prefer, and it’s in excellent condition.
The second one is signed by Françoise de la Perriere who signed many scarves for the great fashion house, including this one depicting the region of Alsace.
If you’d like more information about buying Hermès scarves, then I recommend this page, very well researched and regularly updated.
And of course I’d love to know what is the best piece of treasure you have ever slipped into your suitcase? A work of art, some silver forks or a vintage dress? Do tell us please, we’d all love to know.