When I was small, my babysitter gave me a toy monkey as a gift. The face and the body of that stuffed brown doll were made out of soft inexpensive fabric, but the face and the hands and the feet were made out of cheeky fake, hard, plastic. I don’t remember being much of a doll lover, (the Barbie phase was always stronger during the summer months) but I had a special affection for this one monkey – in particular. I am not certain what ever became of this monkey, but every now and again, I can get a whiff or smell odorous plastic and absolutely be brought right back to sipping hot chocolate in the parlor of this teenage friend’s house with a vivid recollection of the very day that she gave it to me. I was wrapped up in a pink snow suit with a huge matching scarf tied around my face at the the zipper to help keep me warm in the snow. We lived next door to one another, so we were always playing and running in and out of each others houses and on this particular freezing cold day, we were building a snowman in her area way (a reference, I can say with certainty, that only a 100% born and raised Brooklynite would know its meaning.) Anyhow, it was a bitterly cold day and we went in for some hot chocolate and she just handed this pretty brown lanky armed monkey to me. He was adorable, I thought. I took off my scarf and casually wrapped it around its small neck – to warm him up, I guess, I was about 5 or so. I later carried him home with the same pink plaid scarf on him that I was wearing so that he wouldn’t feel the elements and get cold. I became very attached and very protective of that little brown miniature.
I never thought about that monkey/scarf moment until recently. I was at the Hermès Flagship store on Madison Avenue to pick up a gift for someone and the salesperson that I was working with, started showing me the winter collection of their new silk twills. I don’t need any more scarves or pocket squares, for a fact, but there is always the one more that I simply must have. “Je t’aime Hermès,” (and the Birkin and the Kelly bags that were made famous by the French singer/actress, Jane Birkin and Princess Grace respectively) the brand is pure elegance, understated, if not for the belts emblazoned with the gigantic gold plated letter H buckle, and, of course the color du jour, l’orange. My Hermès collection is a plethora of wearable art; delicate, feminine, each designed and then signed – they are each authentic, delightful and original.
Anyhow, I sorted through a lot of very beautiful plumes of color and uniquely and delicately decorated scarves, and in the middle of one of the pink printed beauties, I spotted a little monkey in the middle of the design, just looking up at me. Tiny, so small in fact, that I am not even sure I could find him again without readers. This scarf, like so many that I own, I was told, was designed by the artist Annie Faivre, now famous as the Hermès designer that not only signs her work, she hides a few tiny monkeys in her prints. (Oddly enough there are commissioned Hermès artists that choose to remain anonymous, go figure. Even stranger, is that I never questioned the art or the artist, I simply chose what was pretty.) Well, after checking my profile of purchases in their computer (I like to confirm I haven’t double dipped, as sometimes I like a scarf so much, I forget that I already own it) apparently and unbeknownst to be, I am one of Annie Faivre’s faves, as the scarves that I have been given, or given to myself were mostly created by her. And I had no idea that she was the artist, or that there was an animal – a cute little monkey casually placed and hanging around inside all her drawings. No idea at all. Like my toy monkey, I asked no questions, just thankfully took the gift and ran…..
As I am writing this, there is a very special pink,orange and purple 36″x36″ Annie Faivre scarf that is being framed as a decorative keepsake. That particular silk that was given to me on Easter one year, was among some of the items I cherished, that was not swept away in that terrible storm.
So I decided to protect it, have it commemorated and very soon that illusive little monkey will stay nice and warm and wrapped inside one of my favorite toys.
photographs by Viva Violeta Photography