Classic neckwear and excellent gifts: scarves and ties Hermes style

Francis Lora

The country of Croatia may have given birth to the necktie. Many believe the word “cravat” (meaning a soft necktie) comes from the French interpretation of “Croate,” short for “Croatian.” But a few sources note that the word “cravat” was in use before the Thirty Years’ War and referred to a strip of parchment or cloth. Nonetheless, it seems clear that King Louis XIV of France popularized the necktie sometime during the 1630s or 1640s, after being visited by Croatian mercenaries involved in the Thirty Years’ War. The king was very impressed by the soldiers’ traditional uniforms, which featured soft scarves tied around their necks. In fact, by 1650, Louis and his court were wearing Croatian neck scarves instead of the full lace ruffs that had previously been fashionable. Then, Exiled King Charles II of England brought the French cravat with him to England when he returned to the throne. Englishmen soon began sporting the stylish neck scarves and tied them in as many as 100 different knots.

Regardless of who invented them, today scarves and ties make excellent gifts for men and women. Their mere appearance is a sign of not only distinction but also elegance and good taste. And among the creme-de-la creme of these sophisticated accessories is European designer Hermes of Paris, a fashion house known to invest heavily in the education and skill refinement of its craftsmen, who are sent around the world to learn the techniques of other craftsmen from other cultures.

Founded in 1837 by premier fashion pioneer and namesake Fashion Designer Thierry Hermes, the company and legacy continue to thrive to this very day. The Hermes group is still largely owned by the three families that founded the company: the Dumas, Guerrand, and Puech families. Only 16% of the company’s stock is in the hands of either institutions or private investors.

Today, you can buy Hermes products on line, though with locations in Paris, London, Milan, New York and 145 shops world round, Hermes has a worldwide distribution.

“The Best Gifts Come Inside the Orange Box” is the company slogan. And indeed, if you can afford the luxury of a Hermes tie or scarf, you can rest assured that you’re investing in a fine piece of fashion … and a lovely sign of chic.

Prices start at $320 for silk scarves and $145 for silk ties.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

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