Mille Fleurs Du Mexique: The Slim d’Hermès ‘Visits’ Mexico With Mother-Of-Pearl And Miniature Painting

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by Elizabeth Doerr

If you’ve ever been to Mexico, you know that vivid colors are the order of the day, particularly when it comes to local art forms.

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

French graphic designer Laetitia Bianchi paid homage to her ethnic country of origin by creating a pattern for a Hermès silk scarf that, with its barrage of cut leaves and flowers, is reminiscent of fifteenth and sixteenth-century tapestries.

Laetitia Bianchi's silk scarf for Hermès, which was inspired by the shapes and colors of Mexico
Laetitia Bianchi's silk scarf for Hermès, which was inspired by the shapes and colors of Mexico

Laetitia Bianchi’s silk scarf for Hermès, which was inspired by the shapes and colors of Mexico

Drawing on Mexican folklore, the design also exhibits an outpouring of magical feathers, flowers, leaves, and birds. These juxtaposed elements transform to certainly at least partially symbolize the ethereal nature of time and what it means.

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Bianchi is something of an all-around artist: she was also the editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Le Tigre, a monthly French magazine that dispensed with advertisements to remain true to its artistic and independent ideals.

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

“Timeless” art

Bianchi’s scarf motif is now found on the watch dial of the very limited Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique, whose name translates as “a thousand flowers from Mexico.”

La Montre Hermès envisioned the dial of this svelte wristwatch as a painting framed by a circle of white gold instead of a square wooden frame.

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

The motif is minutely applied by hand to create a miniature painting on a fragile mother-of-pearl dial.

Working with mother-of-pearl is difficult. Most slivers of the material are only 0.4 mm thick or less, so it only takes a simple push in the wrong direction to snap the brittle material.

The panoply of colors required for the vivid dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
The panoply of colors required for the vivid dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

The panoply of colors required for the vivid dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

The dial maker must be very careful when working with mother-of-pearl, first attaching the material to a brass blank and then very, very carefully drilling a miniscule hole in the center so that the hand arbor can be extended through to host the hour and minute hands.

Needless to say, one wrong move and the artisan must begin the careful process of creating the dial all over again.

Painting the mother-of-pearl dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique using a brush of just a couple of hairs
Painting the mother-of-pearl dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique using a brush of just a couple of hairs

Painting the mother-of-pearl dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique using a brush comprising just a couple of hairs

The patient painter begins by sketching the motif lightly onto the mother-of-pearl with a pencil. Once he is satisfied with the outlines, he prepares his palette of vibrant paints. Using a very delicate brush containing just a couple of natural hairs, he very carefully applies color to the motif.

This process is repeated about 20 times, firing the fragile mother-of-pearl in an oven heated to 90°C in between each application of paint so that it thoroughly dries. Only this way can the artist judge the desired shade of the paint and know exactly when to stop applying it to reach his artistic vision.

A close look at the miniature painting on mother-of-pearl dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
A close look at the miniature painting on mother-of-pearl dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

A close look at the miniature painting on mother-of-pearl dial of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Thanks to the painstaking work of the artisan and the mother-of-pearl base, this beautiful, shimmering dial accurately reproduces the flowing lines and subtle nuances of the silk painting on the beautiful Hermès scarf.

The Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique comes on an appropriately colorful jungle-green strap
The Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique comes on an appropriately colorful jungle-green strap

The Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique comes on an appropriately colorful jungle-green leather strap

The vivid color is enhanced by the addition of a deep green Hermès leather strap, perhaps symbolizing the deep jungles of Mexico.

View through the display back of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
View through the display back of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

View through the display back of the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

This Slim d’Hermès timepiece features a sapphire crystal case back to allow the wearer to look in on the tranquil beat of automatic Caliber H1950 any time he or she might tire of the artwork on the other side.

But that day is unlikely to ever come.

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique
Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique

Quick Facts
Case: 39.5 mm, white gold, transparent case back
Movement: automatic Caliber H1950, ultra-flat at 2.6 mm in height; micro rotor; 21,600 vph; very fine finishing
Dial: miniature painting on mother-of-pearl depicting a motif from Laetitia Bianchi’s silk scarf
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 6 pieces
Price: 65,000 Swiss francs
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Originally published at Quill & Pad.