When Fée Halsted, the founder of South Africa’s world-renowned Ardmore Ceramic Art, was a young art student, one of her most treasured possessions was a vibrant scarf from luxury French brand Hermès. Embellished with a print of animals and tropical plants, the accessory inspired her creatively and brought a cheerful brightness to her dull university residence bedroom.
Today, this relationship has come full circle. Thanks to a recent collaboration between Ardmore and Hermès, it’s Fée’s own company’s exuberant designs that now appear on the international brand’s silk scarves.
The seeds for the alliance were planted in 2013 when Fée and her daughter Megan were approached by one of Hermès’ designers at a ceramic fair in Paris. They met with the team and it was decided that it was time to have an African-inspired design on the French manufacturer’s products.
Fée’s elder daughter Catherine set to work with several other Ardmore artists to conceptualise the artwork for the scarves, and the results are a beautiful eye-catching reflection of the ceramic brand’s distinct personality. The hand-rolled silk pieces are radiant, intricate, highly animated and proudly local, just like Ardmore’s carefully sculpted pottery.
Two designs are currently available from Hermès, each in various different colour ways. La Marche du Zambèze features imagery of a central elephant surrounded by other creatures of the Zambezi with indigenous flora motifs and hints of python and crocodile skin. The Savana Dance shows a vervet monkey being chased by a leopard and this main image is complemented by giant King Protea flowers and symbols from Zulu culture.
The scarves are prime examples of local art being recognised as having appeal on a global scale. We have to say, it’s heart-warming to think of fashion-forward individuals around the world sporting pieces designed by a company that started out as a tiny collective in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Ardmore’s scarves are available from most Hermès stores around the world (check for availability on each individual country’s website) and are hopefully just the first of many products to come out of this collaboration.