“A well-turned phrase, constructed with precisely chosen words, is like a scarf, made from finely woven cloth; both depend on craftsmanship,” mused Hermès Artistic Director Pierre-Alexis Dumas on Thursday night at the brand’s rue de Sèvres store on Paris’s Left Bank. The event was held in honor of the French philosopher Roland Barthes, who would have been 100 this year.

When Barthes scholar Eric Marty first approached Dumas about participating in centennial celebrations, Dumas immediately thought to create an exclusive edition of the brand’s iconic silk scarf inspired by Barthes’ celebrated essay “A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments,” which has long been a must read literary Francophiles lost in love. “A scarf is very intimate,” said Dumas, “it absorbs fragrance and your scent and expresses emotion and memory. ”

French graphic artist Philippe Apeloig, who designed the collaborative scarf, was an obvious choice, according to Dumas. Apeloig, whose posters and typography were recently the subject of a thirty-year retrospective at Paris’s Musée des Art Décoratifs, admitted that he was taken aback by the assignment. “Barthes’ writing is very visual; his ideas on fashion, advertising and photography have inspired my generation of graphic artists. He designed a special text layout for each page of ‘Fragments,’ so my first idea was to use typography, but that was too obvious. Finally I blacked out all the text, turned the words into graphic blocks, and reproduced each page in its original order like a mosaic.” The result, a graphic overview of “Fragments,” resembles a musical score, a piece of morse code, hieroglyphics and a diagram of digital circuitry. It’s both a thing of beauty and a source of comfort for those waiting for the phone to ring.

Editorial Credit: by Rebecca Voight in WMagazine.com


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