As if my Hermès obsession wasn’t bad enough, Hermès decided to come to New York City and, in a beautiful old church on Park Avenue at 63rd Street, hold their Festival des Metiérs, with Hermès craftsmen from France in different stations showing how they practice their craft!
|The festival was in an old church on Park Avenue at 63rd Street in NYC.|
|The lovely chandelier.|
There was so much to see, from the saddle maker to the lady gilding crystal glasses with 24K gold paint, from a watchmaker to a maker of men’s shirts and ties. But you know me, forever stuck on scarves, jewelry and handbags and those stations were where I spent most of my time.
|The threads used in sewing the leather bags. Look at those colors!|
|The ever-patient Pierre, making a Kelly Retourne and listening to endless questions.|
Pierre, the wonderful Kelly craftsman, had a ton of people around his station at all times. He mostly got asked the same question: How long does it take to make a Kelly? Over 18 hours, he said. A woman engaged him in a conversation about leather, which ended up being really interesting. He was crafting a bag from orangey-red Togo leather, which is a pebbled leather Hermès uses in many of their bags and also for things like Ulysse notebooks and agendas. The lady asked him if it was his favorite leather and he said no, Togo is not a great leather, women like it because it doesn’t scratch easily and it’s okay if you take it out in the rain, but it loses its shape over time. When pressed he said his two favorite leathers are Barenia and Box calf. He pointed to his own leather apron and said it was made of Barenia. It scratches, he said, but it ages better and becomes distinctive because of the scratches. “My apron is going to look different than the apron of the saddle maker,” he said, pointing to the sellier station. The leather develops a patina according to how the person is using it and taking care of it. Fascinating!
|He is actually working on the inside of the bag. A Retourne gets turned inside out at the end.|
|I wish I could've been there when he turned this beauty inside out and ironed it!|
|The gem setter placing a diamond into the detail of a gold cuff.|
The gem setter was placing the tiniest little diamonds into an 18K rose-gold Collier de Chien cuff, one of Hermès’ most iconic pieces (usually made in leather). She said no glue is ever used, the setting is shaped to perfectly hold the diamond.
|Her craft: setting diamonds into the pyramids of an 18K rose-gold Collier de Chien cuff!|
|The saddle maker.|
|An Hermès representative explains the silk-screening process.|
By far the biggest crowds were at the scarf station, where there was a demonstration of the silk-screening process—a separate screen is used for each individual color used on an Hermès scarf!—and the engraving process. There were also beautiful 90cm scarves tied to two different bars. People (myself among them) couldn’t resist touching them, holding them out to admire the designs and the colors (my God the colors!) and to take pictures. Did you know it takes two years to make an Hermès silk scarf from the initial design to the finished product? Something else I learned is it’s up to the artist whether or not to sign their scarves, which explains why my Washington’s Carriage 70cm is not signed, but my Le Boubou H is.
|The silk-screening station with all the color bowls.|
|The trays used to add different colors.|
|The scarves were irresistible!|
|First we touch, then we photograph!|
|The engraver explains her process of transferring art into a scarf.|
|Can you believe this exquisite picture will become a scarf?|
|This pattern is L’Art du Temari, one I am currently obsessed with.|
|I don’t know the name of this Scottish-influenced pattern but it is amazing.|
I brought my very patient 5-year-old daughter with me to the festival. She was interested for awhile, until she found another little girl to run a race with in an empty spot behind where the Kelly bag was being made. “Oh look, Hermès daycare!” I joked with the other mother as we let the girls dash back and forth. I had one eye on my girl, the other eye on that gorgeous Kelly!
The festival will be in San Francisco from September 20-24 and in Houston October 10-14 before making its way to Asia. Since Hermès doesn’t do these festivals very often I am so glad I attended this one and if you get a chance to see it, don’t miss it!