french collectibles – the hermès scarf

by Sharon Santoni

details from hermés silk scarf

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.

hermes scarf

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.

details from hermés silk scarf

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.

details from hermés silk scarf

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.


Emm May 30, 2015 - 7:13 pm

Thank you for that link. I have a couple of vintage scarves, so old that they came packaged in flat orange envelopes rather than the boxes, and I should do some research on them.
Your finds are both gorgeous.

Jan Meacham August 20, 2016 - 10:18 pm

The flat orange box is how they were packaged when bought on an airplane …

Jan Meacham May 30, 2015 - 7:35 pm

What is the link please….

Colleen Taylor May 30, 2015 - 7:55 pm

When I was in Italy awhile back, since we were on the go, I traveled lightly. I wasn’t able to get anything else in my small suitcase but I did have a leather backpack & that was where I carefully placed my precious Italian piece of pottery. I padded it up with vintage Italian linens & carried it on my back. Yes, it made my back very sore but when I got it safely home, it was definitely worth it.

franki May 30, 2015 - 7:58 pm

I carried home the “most beautiful” platter from Cannes…. *sigh* franki

glenda May 30, 2015 - 8:08 pm

What is the link for the Hermes’ scarves for research and updates?

Thank you!

Sarah May 30, 2015 - 8:17 pm

Hi all if you click the words ‘this page’ in the blog post you will be redirected to the link.

Avril May 30, 2015 - 8:21 pm

I bought a beautiful embroidered velvet waistcoat in the 60s from a junk stall in Camden Lock in London. I looked at the price several times…it was so cheap and so beautiful. I paid whatever it said and walked away feeling pleased with my bargain. A few feet away I heard the guy say, “Heck (or something rather stronger) that was the price of the butcher’s hook it was hanging on.” I argued with myself as to whether I should take it back, but being a penniless student at the time I am afraid I walked away… and wore it for years and years.

Cheryl May 30, 2015 - 10:29 pm

Love it…the best found
treasures are accompanied by good stories.

Susan Threlkeld May 30, 2015 - 9:55 pm

I bought a pair of sterling needlepoint scissors at an Antique Fair in the basement of the Park Lane Hotel in London in the 80’s. Such a treasure as the cherub faces were on both sides of the scissors which was unusual according to the vendor.
I love them not only because they are beautiful, but, also because looking at them brings back fond memories of my first trip abroad.

Sally Leonard May 30, 2015 - 11:18 pm

One of my few splurges is Hermes scarves. Btw, the s at the end is pronounced, ” Hermez.” I recently framed one of my favorites which is now hanging in my bedroom. Fun post!!

Joanne May 31, 2015 - 2:37 am

I actually found (and purchased for a song) an original Hermès silk scarf at a second hand shop in Sydney Australia. It’s the ‘Chocs en Plumes’ design in the pale pink colourway designed by Christiane Vauzelles in 1993. It’s in pristine condition and I wear it often.
My eye was drawn to it because of the colours – they are my colours with highlights of blues, greens and cream.
I thought at the time that it must be the real deal and asked the sales girl if it was priced correctly and she said it must be a fake.
It was my lucky day.
I will however go and purchase more from a Hermès store because they are just the most beautiful works of art and I will pass them on to my daughter.

Linda May 31, 2015 - 2:42 am

I brought home a hand-made pillowcase, complete with ruffles and hardanger trim and hand-made buttons from the farm in Norway where my grandfather was born. Every time I look at it I am reminded of the ancestors I never was able to meet. It is a precious treasure.

Linda (Washington state, USA)

Donna clark May 31, 2015 - 2:56 am

I agree the pronunciation is a bit difficult but if one is truly interested, one will find the proper pronunciation.
My brother brought me an authentic Hermès from France over thirty years ago. It is beautiful but as a square I’ve found it a bit difficult to wear. Other than framing it, any suggestions on how to wear it? Thank you Sharon!

Melissa May 31, 2015 - 12:53 pm

There are so many ways to wear the squares, the best thing is to go to Mai Tai’s Blog. She is an Hermes scarf master and has so many stylish ways to tie them, and ways to wear them with different outfits. She also sells accessories such as scarf rings and slides.

CC chintz May 31, 2015 - 3:21 am

I loved all the stories about what others have brought back from overseas trips. My dear husband went to England on business many years ago and bought and brought back 10 blue and white dinner plates of historical castles in a suitcase!! Now I can’t image how he did it. I love those plates. Another trip, we brought back a Mexican Talavera bathroom sink, but that’s another story. I have couple Chanel scarves but I now will be on the look out for Hermes one.

Emm May 31, 2015 - 10:28 pm

The getting-it-home stories! I have an enormous basket I dragged home from Spain years ago, cramming it into the overhead bin on Iberia. These days, you couldn’t get that stuff past the check-in security people.

Cindi brumpton May 31, 2015 - 4:15 am

The best was a woven wool King size bedspread in a traditional Welsh pattern. I purchased it at the Mill where it was made (Trefrew Woolen Mill in northern Wales). I have used it every day for the last 8 years and continue to love it. It’s purchase also resulted in a new suitcase. The one I brought with me had enough room for the bedspread. Lugging it home is part of the memory too.

Andrina May 31, 2015 - 4:28 am

It wasn’t vintage, but it was special. I bought a black spiral staircase in Flamant Antwerp recently. My father was a modernist architect in the 1960’s and many of his homes included a spiral staircase. When I saw the model, it had to come home….. it was an epiphany moment, now I am writing a biography on his modernist houses.

Trinjia May 31, 2015 - 6:40 am

My husband and I went to Africa soon after we were married for a photo safari. While we were there, I bought an old basket that was used to sort grains and a small old wooden stool with interesting carvings on the base. That was over 15 years ago, and I still love both those pieces and have them placed prominently in our home.

Sophia Bektassiadis May 31, 2015 - 1:38 pm

Whenever I travel overseas I am automatically drawn to any flea market. I have been doing this for years – long before it became fashionable to do so. If I see something that “talks to me” it has to come home. On one trip to Athens I found a crochet blanket. It was exactly the same as one my grandmother had made and which I remember as a child on my mums bed. It had such an unusual pattern -small bobbles, ecru coloured and no one had one like it. It was in excellent condition with only the edging missing. I negotiated a price and proudly carried the heavy thing home. My mum reactions upon seeing it was “why the hell did you buy that”? My response was ….” there were two choices – this or the vintage dolls that had been sleeping with the rats in someone’s shed. This won”. I just got back from Athens and guess what…. I found two vintage dolls and yes they look as if they’ve been sleeping with the rats for years and yes I did buy them.

Kathi May 31, 2015 - 3:55 pm

In the 1990’s my husband and I spent a day in the flea market in Paris. (Metro stop Clingancourt) at the suggestion of Mousier Poulane – the famous maker of bread who sadly died years later. We met him on the Champs Élysées where he spotted us eating his bread!!! He gave many suggestions for our Paris visit and even gave us a tour of his bakery and it’s very warm basement with ovens. We left with a bag full of his bread and treats!!!! What a kind man he was!!!! I diverge. Anyway, we bought an old handmade wooden golf club at the flea market. We were delighted until we tried to carry it on the plane. It was viewed as a weapon and had to be checked… did however, make it home unscathed!!! We return to France in September- can’t wait- Provence has been on my list for a long time. Suggestions for our visit are welcome!!!!

JudyMac May 31, 2015 - 4:13 pm

My favorite souvenir of my first trip to Paris is a small pottery bluebird found at the Vanves flea market. Got up at dawn and made my way there, where it soon began a slow drizzle of rain. Kinda rough looking, but a very lovely blue, it has some kind of scribble on the bottom, and the seller told me it was by a potter in the south of France who was very famous. I have no idea whether that was the truth or not, and I always felt I paid too much for it, but this sweet little bird has a place of honor on a shelf in front of my bedroom window where it can look out at the real bluebirds outdoors. It is truly my little bluebird of happiness. I have since been back to Paris, and who knows, maybe I will get to go back and play the flaneur for yet another day.

Ann May 31, 2015 - 4:56 pm

When visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, we went to a restaurant where we watched a lady making fresh tortillas using a wooden press and something inside me said, “I want one”. So we had a taxi driver take us around to the little stores looking for one and at one store in a corner, all dusty, there was this amazing wooden one. I packed it as best I could and carried it on the plane. The airplane was jammed packed but the attendant found a place for it. We use it when making fish tacos. We are gourmands and love to cook. Who knows what I would bring back from France.

La CONTESSA May 31, 2015 - 5:15 pm

A BISTRO table!Not once but twice…………second time I carried it on the TVG…….had two gorgeous French women smiling at me.”CAFE” I said…….it was a small top so was easy to manage.The other was a normal size outside table that folded up beautifully into my BIG BLACK BAG!In ITALY………years ago……….still have both inside the house!

Karena May 31, 2015 - 6:14 pm

Dear Sharon, these are gorgeous and I have not found Any Hermes scarves at the markets here! What fabulous finds!!

The Arts by Karena

Sharon May 31, 2015 - 7:32 pm

My husband visited Paris in Feb. 1997 and gifted me with a Hermes scarf in the orange box. It is a very large scarf for my 4’10” frame and I have never worn it. I know it was expensive and I do love it. My husband died May of 1997 and every so often I take it out of the box knowing that he touched that scarf and bought it especially for me. I would love to have it framed to see the beauty of it but then I couldn’t touch it.

Ana June 1, 2015 - 2:04 am

My favorite piece is the beautiful painting that YOU, helped me acquire by negotiating the price with the gallery owner! It was so exciting because it was the end of a long day of brocante shopping and I hadn’t found that “special” something! While all my other girlfriends rested outside with their cold refreshments, you offered to go into the gallery with me. And sure enough! There was an amazing painting in a gold frame that I couldn’t resist although it was pricy I was able to get it because of the gracious shopkeeper and your negotiating skills. Then you said, “Can you get that in your luggage?” And I said, “Of course I can!” And I did, and now it hangs in a prominent place in my living room.
Thank you Sharon for the great memories!! My husband and I are going to Paris in late July and I will hunt down the Hermes for sure!! Hello from the girls from Graham, Texas!

Becky Stephens June 11, 2015 - 12:07 am

The girls from Graham Texas can get just about anything in their luggage!! And yes, hello from me too.

Sue Morriss June 1, 2015 - 6:38 am

On each of my first few visits to Paris I bought a silver Tastevin. Have always been interested in them & the history. Small, not heavy, very portable! Beautiful! I love to see them displayed on my sideboard.
But then there is the petal tart ring from Dehillerin in the 70s when such things were unavailable in Australia. (My rhubarb & raspberry tart would not be the same without it, a pastry heart placed within each petal).

Jill October 28, 2018 - 4:27 pm

I would love to see a picture of that…

marie ballon June 1, 2015 - 2:21 pm

Dear Sharon, I have the Same scarf. In fact I bought It twice, because the first one was stolen. It is a very rare scarf indeed. It took me long to find the second. It’s named ‘Fleurs et Galons’. When you go to ‘’ and you tick ‘ designer’ in the left top corner, you will find the designer, Madame La Torre, and you will see your beautiful scarf. Congratulations.
Marie from Brussels.

Martha Alberti June 1, 2015 - 10:01 pm

Delightful post! Especially since I adore ANY Hermès scarf! The stories behind the designs and the artists’s particularities make them so much more than an accessory.
Angèle just sent me a never- been- worn, still in the box Phillipe Ledoux “Springs” carre. I felt almost guilty the day I tied it for the first time in its life! It felt so luxurious next to my skin all day… my guilt soon dissipated .I made sure to wear my signature Vol de Nuit scent by Guerlain which truly pleased my inner French woman.
This particular scarf is one of the artist’s last designs before he died in a motorcycle accident. Martha

Deb June 2, 2015 - 6:56 am

It’s nice to have a small momento, something small and beautiful from time spent overseas. I have a small collection of tiny boxes and little containers for the dressing table I’ve collected on my travels, but my favourite item is my Mary Quant scarf purchased from her shop on Carnaby St in the mid 1970’s. It isn’t a Hermes but I felt miserable when I thought I’d thrown it out by mistake. Such relief when I found it.

ann hodgkins June 3, 2015 - 3:17 am

Great finds! The fun is in the hunt and discovery of these treasures.I have three Hermes scarves purchased over thirty-five years ago.One is the classic orange bordered caleche.Second is black bordered,Third is a pastel pink bordered.All were purchased on trips to Holland.Duty free at Schipol Airport was great in those days.I have annother wonderful Italian scarf purchsed at a shop in Burlington Arcade in London.They are all in very good condition and have never gone out of style.I will have to start wearing them again in the fall.I always end up with at least three scarves/wraps when visiting France.They always fit into my carry-on!

Michelle Heidelberg June 3, 2015 - 7:27 pm

My FIND was a huge pair of 18th century armoire doors found for 100 Euros at a brocante fair in Laval. Hauled them around in the car for a week, bubble-wrapped them, checked them on our flight home, and Sacre Dieu!! they arrived safe and sound here in South Mississippi. Now what to do with them???
For a reunion for 10 college friends, I collected 10 Hermes scarves on Ebay. Each scarf told something about the recipient. A hobby, talent, saying or memory. It was so much fun to find just the right scarf for each friend. Did I mention that I love discoveries???

Ladi Zajicek August 20, 2016 - 10:02 pm

I came upon your blog and really enjoy it – merci


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