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Emery: 10,000 vintage scarves in 2 decades, meet Benoit’s French art director Pierre Emery, who wrote a book about his collection.

LONDON. When Benoît Pierre Emery bought a 1970s Christian Dior silk scarf for about $30 on eBay in 2001, little did he know it would be the germ of a collection that would grow to over 10,000 pieces in two decades and lead to a book. which will be released this year.

Emery, 52, a self-proclaimed lover of graphic design, is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and holds an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art in London. In his forthcoming book Carré. Vintage Scarves Collection catalogs some 4,500 of his pieces, focusing on their composition rather than their role as fashion accessories.

Covering the post-World War II period through the 1980s, the book features famous fashion houses, including exquisite silks from Balenciaga, Hermès, Lanvin and Saint Laurent, but many other scarves are unsigned.

This project, as he said in a video interview from Paris, where he now works as creative director of glassware at Hermès, is a tribute to the many anonymous artists who created these scarves: looks like a picture book. There are direct references to very famous art movements in the collection, but you always have some gaps, some area that has not been explored, like some island that has yet to be discovered. .”

In one volume, the scarves will be shown in full-page reproductions; the other will display them in a grid; the third is the index. The scarves are organized according to what he called “typologies of shapes, patterns, themes, colors, etc.”

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The Dior that started it all had a white background and dark red stripes that caught his eye. “He was a woman’s face made up of concentric circles,” he said.

Emery has also designed scarves for Hermès. His first fragrance was released in 2005, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the company’s 24 Faubourg fragrance, whose name refers to the address of Hermès’ Parisian flagship store.

Two years earlier, he created his own brand of scarves, which he named after himself: “Each design was made from white dots on a monochrome color. This line had a very short life, to be honest. I wasn’t the best salesperson. ”

Creating a square scarf (or carré), Emery said: “I’m trying to translate the first impulse of my mind, the first note, into a sketch. Then I take that little note and start creating a complete piece of music, in a way.

“You need to keep in mind how it will look like on a flat surface, like a painting, and also how it will look when worn, how it will look when folded. Sometimes the most important parts are the angles you get when you fold your scarf, the parts you’ll see the most.”

Emery said the move from scarf design to tableware of all shapes and sizes was a natural evolution, but nonetheless required new thinking.

And sometimes he borrowed motifs found in his scarves.

“I designed the Mosaïque au 24 scarf for Hermès and introduced the idea of ​​adapting the scarf design to porcelain,” he said. (The motif was influenced by the geometric mosaic floor tiles at the flagship store.)

“It was a fun adventure,” he said. “But it was a very long process. When you make a scarf, you express yourself on just one piece of fabric. As for the dishes, I found it to be a way of expressing the same idea in different shapes, different objects: it’s more like creating a puzzle with pieces that interact with each other.”

According to him, some of his scarves in the book are “very clean and simple.” “When worn, they are not as spectacular. I like it when they are flat.”

He also said he hopes his book will show how different graphic designs can interact in what he called “a secret dialogue between works from different authors and from distant eras.”

According to him, the collection of his collection was “like a treasure hunt.” He trolled “vintage stores, auctions, online, flea markets, a little bit of everything really. At some point, I contacted many dealers around the world.”

Some come from more unusual places
“One of the very rare things I own,” a scarf he says was designed by photographer Bert Stern using one of his famous images of Marilyn Monroe topless behind a see-through scarf, “was bought in New York, it seems in 2014. he said. “The handkerchief hung in the bar, and its very poor condition is due to the sun making it dull and the customers’ cigarettes soaking the silk. It’s almost a scrap, but the thing is unique and still beautiful.”

Monroe’s scarf is not in the book. “He was too fragile to be photographed,” he said. “I hope we can somehow save it and maybe articulate it to protect it.”

His collection is mostly in a special vault. Each scarf is packaged in a plastic acid-free bag and placed in groups of eight or 10 in cardboard boxes, which are then placed in large lacquer boxes. “You have to be careful with temperature and humidity,” he said.

Those chosen for the book had to be taken out of storage and photographed flat to highlight their design and show any creases or other signs of age, highlighting their history as artifacts. The process took a year and a half, he said, including the creation of a database with detailed information about each scarf.

“While the most prestigious brands only use silk, some brands from the 60s and 70s used cheaper material like rayon,” he said. “Some of the most beautiful graphic designs are made from very poor quality material.”

Among them is his favorite black and white painting, which he found in Switzerland. Its designer remains a mystery.

“Looks like an explosion,” he said. “The material is super shiny, terrible. Probably acetate. The edges are very bad, not at all correct, but the design is fantastic. When I saw it, I thought this material is so repulsive, but the design is so strong, you can’t run away from it.”

What he likes about his collection, he said, is that “even though some pieces are badly printed on plain material – even with machine-sewn edges – it doesn’t matter, because in the end, if the design is strong, I’m still fascinated.”

The hobby at some point turned into a “real addiction,” he said, adding that he’s slowed down his purchases over the past few years.

Did he ever sell them?

“No,” he said. “I can’t let them go. I’m too attached. But that’s the point of the book – to share the treasure. There’s no point in keeping it for yourself.”

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