I recently received a large collection of Hermès ties from my grandfather. They are very old and fragile. How can I best preserve them?
Well, first of all, congratulations; we should all have grandfathers as thoughtful as yours. You must do these ties justice. Silk’s biggest enemy is sunlight. The sun’s rays degrade many of the pigments that are used to dye silk; and the brighter the color, the more susceptible it is. Your grandfather’s ties have most likely made it this far by being stored in a space that is both dark and dry. Dry because water is silk’s second biggest enemy; it both stains and degrades the fibers. Some silks are washable; my suspicion is that your collection of Hermès ties are not.
So here’s what you do: Store ‘em like grandpa would have—dark, dry, and cool for good measure. Don’t fold them, either: Roll them or hang them to avoid unneeded creases. And on that note—not that I think a grandson deserving of such a collection would actually ever do this—don’t leave them tied when you take them off. Dry clean only: There are special processes that a good dry cleaner will use to preserve the color and get any water stains out (provided you act swiftly). Silk, when properly cared for, can last centuries, so there is the distinct possibility you will pass these ties on to your grandson if you play your cards right.