Hermès silk twill scarf 'Paperoles' designed by Claudia Stuhlhofer-Mayr. Hand rolled edges.
Paperoles are meticulously rolled, fine strips of paper that can be assembled to make up all kinds of objects, generally with a religious theme. They were crafted by nuns with the most marvellous dexterity. In the 1990s this rare example of a secular-themed paperole – a berline de gala, or ceremonial carriage, from the early 19th century – was found in a Florentine antiques shop. Hermès acquired it and added it to the house’s collection. The unusual object, which inspired this scarf design by Claudia Stuhlhofer‑Mayr, is remarkable in every way: the wheels can turn, the front‑wheel axle pivots, and each detail is fastidiously reproduced, from the horses’ harnesses to the coach driver’s gaiter button. Everything is made from paper and cardboard, with the exception of the carriage lining in silk, and the horses’ legs, which are carved in wood.
The legendary French luxury goods house began as a harness workshop in Paris in 1837. By the twenties, Hermès had the patent for the zipper in France, and introduced the first ladies’ bags with zip closures, and in 1937, the first Hermès silk scarves were born (today, a scarf is allegedly sold every twenty seconds). The company expanded into riding gloves, belts, and men’s and women's sportswear, and designed the now-famous travel trunks to meet the needs of the new automobile drivers. The Kelly bag debuted in 1956 after Grace Kelly used a large crocodile handbag to hide her pregnancy. In the seventies, the first women's shoe collection and the first complete men's ready-to-wear collection were introduced. Actress Jane Birkin replaced her old straw purse with a leather Hermès number in 1984, and started the rage that is the Birkin bag. Today the Birkin continues to have the longest waiting list of any luxury accessory. Hermès also has a complete home line, bed and bath linens, furniture, silverware, crystal and porcelain, office accessories, and baby gifts. In 2003, following Martin Margiela, Jean-Paul Gaultier joined the house as women's ready-to-wear designer, putting a high-fashion spin on the label’s equestrian roots. After departing in May 2010, Christophe Lemaire, who is best known for reviving preppy label Lacoste, took the reigns. In June 2004, perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena took a post as the in-house perfumer and launched several scents that have amassed cultish popularity. There are over 240 Hermès boutiques internationally, including a Wall Street location, the North American flagship on Madison Avenue, and in the fall of 2009, the first menswear-only boutique right across the street.