Sometimes the best birthday gifts are purchased by yourself. I realised this when I fell in love with Cheval Surprise – a silk square from Comme des Carrés, Hermès' collaboration with Comme des Garçons – and handed over my dosh. Pearly white and jet black, it implies riders in a storm of ink blots, while the addition of rayon gingham reminds that Rei rules, OK.
Oddly enough I met the enigmatic Japanese empress in New York with John Malkovich in the mid-80s. I just knew who Kawakubo was. She certainly had no interest in who I was. And Malkovich, who possesses a perverse sense of humour, was amused by our stilted exchange. “Talk about rude,” I spluttered afterwards. However, being older and wiser, I now realise that people like Kawakubo lack the time for niceties. It clouds their creative landscape.
Besides, she is too important to dismiss. Kawakubo remains one of fashion’s brilliant warriors who follows her moods, throws down the gauntlet every season and sticks out a defiant tongue at market research.
"Kawakubo remains one of fashion’s brilliant warriors who follows her moods, throws down the gauntlet every season and sticks out a defiant tongue at market research."
“Live free with strong will” is scrawled across another Hermès scarf that shows dressage horses, kitted up in their finery. Apparently, the line is one of Kawakubo's favourite expressions. Still, in spirit, I feel that it suits Hermès too. For over 175 years the French fashion house has been adamant about maintaining the quality, whether it’s the boldness of the shade or softness of the leather lining.
Even after my parents divorced, my mother continued to buy my father’s Hermès agenda refill for him. Thoroughly chuffed, he always said, “it’s the best Christmas present in the world being practical and elegant.” And I rather feel the same about my new scarf.
Text by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradise, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.