The tigers of Hermès scarfs: the interview with the artist behind them
She likes to dream of fantastic world and of marvellous fairytales. And that was kind of obvious when I looked at the beautiful drawings from the famous Hermès silk carré recent collections. Author and illustrator of two children books, Alice Shirley is the girl behind the recent Hermès scarfs drawings; more precisely, the artist that gave life to the incredible scene of tigers, zebras, exotic fishes and birds. (www.aliceshirley.com, www.hermes.com)
Your drawings for Hermès scarfs, a zebra with parrot-like wings, a tiger surrounded by flowers (seen on scarfs) are not quite… usual. From where comes the inspiration for them?
I am always inspired by nature, history, stories, myths… The scope is broad and multi-layered. The silk carré designs for Hermès always contain a story, so it is never just a pretty pattern.
How did the collaboration with Hermès begun?
I was studying at the Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch London (now called the Royal Drawing School). Two members of the Hermès family, Hubert and Xavier Guerrand-Hermès, are patrons of the school. They saw my work and wanted to buy my sketchbook. I told them it wasn’t for sale, so Hubert bought my children’s book, Aesop’s Fables instead, with original illustrations tucked in the pages. As a thank you for buying my book I sent him a hand-coloured etching of iguanas being ridden by mice. He liked this and sent it to the creative department at Hermès, who rang me and asked me to come to Paris with my portfolio…
What is your most favourite drawing / your favourite Hermès scarfs?
The one I am working on right now, it is always that way.
You wrote and illustrate two books for children. There will be a third one? When?
I’ve been very busy and books take a long time to write and illustrate. As soon as I have some time, I will work on it. I have the story ready, it’s a good one…
What is the famous children book you would have loved to write (and make illustration for it)?
Anything by Roald Dahl, the man was a genius.
What is your next plan related to the fashion world? Another collaboration?
To be honest, I have my work cut out for me working with Hermès. Any spare time out of that I work on private commissions or personal fine art projects. I’ve just had some time off in France and worked on a really fun collaborative project with some friends there. I trained as a fine artist, and fell into design work by a wonderful accident. It will be good to find the balance between commercial and non commercial projects. I love doing lots of research for any project I work on, it’s fun and leads me down all sorts of interesting routes. Luckily I have a job that I love for life, I will never retire. There is plenty of time to try many things and work with many people.
Alice Shirley, in 5 words…
Curiouser and curiouser! Sorry that’s not 5.
Alice Shirley graduated from Byam Shaw School of Art, Central St. Martins in 2007 with a BA in Fine Art. From 2007-2009 she worked on writing and illustrating her own edition of Aesop’s Fables, published in 2009 by Pavilion Children’s Books, Anova Books. Her second book for children, The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet was published by Anova Books in 2012. She was commissioned to create masks for the Biophilia Masked Ball, 2014 Natural History Museum London. From her studio in Camden, London, she is currently creating designs for the fashion house Hermès Paris – her first design was available in Hermès A/W 2014 silk carré collection.