Who knew that such an ardent Kermit Oliver/Hermès cult exists in Houston and across the state? The passion for the talented Texas artist's creations for the French luxury house was full on Wednesday night when Hermès introduced La Vie Sauvage du Texas scarf.
Oliver's 17th scarf design for Hermès is being introduced only in Houston and Dallas in limited edition with 2,000 scarves screened in four colorways. Most were sold out via pre-order before the Houston and Dallas launch parties. But as Hermès USA president and CEO Robert Chavez, in from New York, noted, a number were held back so that there would be some of the coveted scarves for sale on party night.
Even at that, by the time the champagne reception was underway, the black and orange versions of the scarf were already sold out. And a collector reported that one of the coveted pieces was already being offered for sale on eBay at $600, well above the $435 ticket.
The shy and retiring artist made one of his rare public appearances on this night, wearing a sports jacket and tie, quietly and almost reluctantly accepting the showers of adoration. Among those in line to greet Chavez and Oliver were Sallie Wright and her daughter, Eliza Wright. Oliver had painted the Wright family portrait some years back. Laura and Tony Visage greeted the artist, whose work they had recently purchased at Hooks-Epstein Galleries, where modest-sized paintings by Oliver go for around $20,000.
Janelle and Tio Kleberg, King Ranch owners who hosted Oliver on his two-day visit to the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute on the ranch, made the party as well, explaining that the institute served as inspiration for the scarf that is replete with Texas wildlife — 120 beautifully-detailed examples of flora and fauna in each. A portion of proceeds from sale of the scarves will benefit the institute.
The credit card terminals were whirring as guests scooped up scarves, ties and other Hermès luxuries. Among the Hermès fans were Bobbie and John Nau, Victoria and Parker Johnson, Lynn Wyatt, Ann and Henry Hamman, Nicole Katz, Valerie Dieterich, Ceron and Todd Fiscus, Pete Coneway, Ellen and Ed Randall and Lindsey Looke.
While most of the above displayed some form of Hermès love, none did it better than Jolie Berndt and Dina Cole, both draped in magnificent Hermès shawls and carrying the requisite Birkins. Cole's was filled with 14 neatly-folded Hermès scarves, all designed by Oliver.
Which begged the question — how many Hermès scarves did she have in all? "I have no idea," she coyly replied.