This Scarf of the Moment post is about the lovely and evocative Les Secrets de Minos scarf, designed by Sophie Koechlin for Hermès in 2003 (not sure of the season).
I was so thrilled when this scarf, in this particular colourway, came up on eBay. It was on an alert as I had been searching for it, alongside others with a similar theme, for quite a long time. I then had quite an exciting time bidding and, eventually, securing the scarf, but all turned out well in the end.
As I have continued to collect Hermès scarves over the last four years, I have realised that there are many designs which appeal to my interests and experiences in life. I have a BA and an MA in Ancient History and Archaeology and part of my studies included a fabulous trip around Italy and Greece, taking in many of the Greek islands. We visited the famous Minoan palace of Knossos on Crete and also other sites and museums, such as the famous Archaeological Museum in Heraklion. So, you can see my interest in this scarf design!
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out a great deal about Hermès’ Les Secrets de Minos, so I will write a kind of place-marking post which I will continue to improve as I gather more information in the future.
The design elements of the scarf were inspired by the art of the Minoan civilisation on the island of Crete, particularly frescos from the palace at Knossos and ceramics. In the Background Information section, below, I have included more information about these frescos, the Palace of Knossos and also the reasons for my own personal interest in the scarf.
The scarf has a wide navy border with the use of many shades of blue, green, brown, beige and orange. The four corners have images of Cretan ceramics, called pithoi, then other famous frescos have been depicted between borders of geometric patterns. The famous bulls and their leapers are at the bottom of the scarf and you can see dolphins, mythical creatures and human figures.
I have not been able to find many good images of the different colourways, so will add more if I find any better ones at a later date:
There is no Hermès design story available for a scarf of this vintage.
Here are some closeups of my scarf in a sideshow format:
How I wear the scarf
I have worn the scarf a few times so far and have found that it works well in casual ties with simple outfits. The best colours to wear with it appear to be blues and you can see it below with two of my Lands’ End twin-sets in navy and cobalt. It would also work well with camel, although I don’t have that colour in my wardrobe. I am a little concerned to see if the scarf will continue to suit me as I grow out my hair and reveal my greys! We will have to see.
I have many accessories in shades of blue which will be lovely with the scarf. I may look for some dolphin earringsto go with it. I already have a tiny dolphin ring in silver which I bought in Greece many years ago.
Here are a few ties that I have used with the scarf and I will add more in the future if I decide to tie it in different ways.
Clockwise from the top left: asymmetric wrap, bias fold, asymmetric wrap reversed, and cowl knot. With the scarf’s wide border, the cowboy cowl knot would work well too.
There is a lot for me to say about this scarf. My visit to Knossos took place in April 1977. Four students from my uni course travelled for six weeks through Italy and Greece. We took a coach from London to Venice, then went to Florence, Pisa and Rome before taking the ferry across from Brindisi to Corinth. We then stayed in Athens, making it our base, and went on trips to Crete and Mykonos before travelling around other famous Greek sites. I wrote a diary throughout the trip and, although my handwriting is now fading, I still enjoy reading my rather naive and innocent first impressions of the ancient culture of those lands and cities. All in all it was an amazing time which had a lasting impression on me.
Now, here are a few links to give you information about the Palace of Knossos:
Main article about Knossos and its palace.
Ancient History Encyclopedia
Knossos: Palace of the Minoans
Minoan Crete: Bronze Age Civilisation
Knossos – a history of the Palace
These are are some of the main images on the scarf and their counterparts (please be aware that some of these are the heavily restored versions):
Lovely dolphins and fish on the scarf:
The original (heavily restored) in situ:
Four gorgeous Cretan ladies on the scarf:
Here is the original, photographed in the Heraklion museum:
Amazing bull-leapers on the scarf:
The original in the Heraklion Museum:
Large ceramic (pithos) on the scarf:
Photograph of a reconstructed pithos from Malia, Crete:
Knossos, Room of Dolphin Fresco by Andy Montgomery on Flickr
A Cretan Odyssey – Courting Beauty at the Palace of Knossos! by Tony Hammond on Flickr
Bull-leaping Fresco, Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete by Garrett Ziegler on Flickr
Reconstructed Pithos on site by Tyler Bell on Flickr
I hope you have enjoyed this tour around Les Secrets de Minos and, perhaps, have learned something about these secrets!
This is just msrvelous, Anne, both the scarf and your essay! Thank you.
And you look great in the scarf!
Thank you, that is such a nice thing to say! Best wishes, Anne
Your Scarf of the Moment here inspired me. I found one on ebay in the same colorway for a very good price and I can’t wait to receive it! Thank you!
I received my scarf and I love it! Thank you for your indpiration.
So glad that you are happy with your scarf x
I am so happy for you, that you were able to buy the scarf you wanted. It looks so lovely on you! Well done. I was at Knossos in 2004 and I wouldn’t mind owning this one myself. Not sure of the colorway I’d wear, though.
It is an amazing place and a lovely scarf. I have quite a few other scarves related to ancient architecture and art motifs, but I might be looking for a long, long, time to actually find them at a good price! Thanks for your comment x
What a special piece with travel experience! The scarf looked extra nice on you. Well done! Thank you for your sharing all the insights! I really appreciate your blog and passion.
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