On the Hermès silk road: printing | Hermes


On the Hermès silk road:

Hermès became Ateliers AS’s main client in the 1960s, and its major shareholder in 1987. With its unique production facility, this textile printer based in Pierre-Bénite is more than merely a compulsory stage in manufacturing the scarves. Its artisans have mastered colours since 1948, combining them, mixing them and then applying them to flatbed screens on long rolls of greige-coloured silk.
In three to four years time, Ateliers AS will open its fifth printing line, as part of a huge investment programme at the Pierre-Bénite site. The objective is to increase the production capacity and workforce of Holding Textile Hermès, as well as to strengthen the interaction between printing and finishing expertise at this site a dozen kilometres from Lyon. It will give wings to the printer, founded in 1937, which currently employs more than 200 people.
Silk scarves have been printed there without interruption since 1948, the date at which Émile Hermès and his son-in-law Robert Dumas discovered the “Lyon” – or silkscreen – printing process, developed by chemist Auguste Arnaud and colour specialist Aimé Savy, in conjunction with engraver Marcel Gandit. In the 1960s Hermès thus became the number one client of the Lyon-based printer, as the renown of their silk scarves grew.
The soaring global popularity of their multitude of colours and shapes was largely due to the expertise of Ateliers AS.
When the team of five colour specialists takes a designer’s dream towards new chromatic horizons, they have no taboos, on condition that they adhere to the model and the meaning of the design. An example of this is the Animapolis scarf from spring-summer 2019, for which the engraver Gandit prepared printing with 39 colours. As with all the patterns, around 15 colour charts in keeping with the season’s trends were drawn up, of which about 10 were selected after 6 months of development. And it will surprise no-one that the silk artistic department favoured a blue panther striding along the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow, or a fuchsia dragon prowling around the Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science. Breaking with convention is a hallmark of the scarf.
To make up these remarkable colour ranges, we must head for the “colour kitchen”. Thousands of home-made recipes have been cooked up here, made with pigments and guar gum, before they can be taken to the table.
Absolutely unique at 150 meters in length, the tables at Pierre-Bénite would be difficult to fit into an ordinary dining room. They have been built to accommodate and unfurl huge rolls of silk twill, ready to receive as many flatbed screens as there are colours to be printed.
As in a relay race, an artisan takes the baton every 40 metres, managing the colour, regulating speed and checking that the printing markers are observed. The successive printings produce a bevy of dazzling squares, printed in Indian file.
After fixing the dyes with steam, followed by washing, rinsing and drying, the pieces are finished. These exceptional skills are perpetuated by means of a production facility that continues to integrate innovations commensurate with the creativity of Hermès’ artistic department.
"It takes three years to become an qualified artisan; the first two are devoted to training with a tutor.”​
Magali Marmonnier, forewoman for Ateliers AS at Pierre-Bénite


Discover more

  • On the Hermès silk road:

    In 2006, following the death of its founder, Établissements Marcel Gandit joined Hermès. This choice represented continuity for the textile engraver from Bourgoin-Jallieu, to whom the scarves owe the precision of their motifs. Since 1948, Gandit artisans have made the printing screens used in the Lyon printing technique, with deconstruction of the artist’s design as a starting point.
  • On the Hermès silk road:
    The Holding Textile Hermès

    Behind these ten or so companies in Rhône-Alpes that nestle and grow under Hermès’ wing lies a wealth of know-how. For the most part unique, this know-how is showcased in the house’s collections and appreciated by customers around the world.
  • New uses for horsehair in Challes

    Plain or dyed, combined with sisal or given a twist with patterns designed to meet the needs of contemporary decorators and upholsterers, horsehair continues its transformation at Créations Métaphores. The weaving process at ATBC, Holding Textile Hermès’ weaving workshop in the Sarthe department, is still entirely traditional.

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Our imprint on…

  • Les femmes et les hommes

    Hermès employs 15417 men and women, including 5200 craftspeople, who form the first métier of the house. This land of hand changes and hires nonstop. To train, pass on, develop, ensure well-being, health and solidarity… Our ambition is to stimulate the personal growth of everyone involved.
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