Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hermès Festival des Metiérs


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!

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you! I doubt I will make it to the Houston exhibition, so this eye-candy is much appreciated. I love hearing the leatherworker's views on Togo, Barenia, and Box. I know Box and Chamonix (akin to Box) can seem old-fashioned, while Togo and Clemence can feel hip and modern, but my older Box retains its shape so beautifully. And yes, the scratches on all of these create a wonderful, unique item. How I would LOVE to have one of those Barenia aprons to wear while processing photographs (at least, the dry stages of them). Until then, I'll go stroke my other bags (and look forward to the Barenia/Toile Evelyne that I'll be receiving soon).

If you have any more pictures, please post. I would love to live vicariously through them!
xo AestheticAlt

SACRAMENTO said...

Such and enthralling POST, DEAR jILL.
Than you so much for always sharing magic.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

SACRAMENTO said...

Did you get my email???
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Gracey at Fashion for Giants said...

Wow. This is amazing. Those scarves are beyond gorgeous, but what I liked best was hearing about the different aprons and how different leathers age differently.

Wonderful post; thank you so much for sharing.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

What an amazing event, Jill! That is so cool that you got to go. I really wish I could make it to Houston! I would have been crowded around the Kelly exhibit also...how much fun!

Rebekah Bonde said...

I am SO jealous of you! I would love to attend this event. I didn't know they were going to be in Houston....maybe I'll make the 3-hour drive and go. It could be my birthday present from my husband. "Oh, honey!...."

You saw why these luxury items cost so much money: because they are not products of a factory with workers who are paid to chug out millions of copies. Each item really is made with care and attention and represents years of skill. I'm proud to have the scarves I have and look forward to being able to collect some other pieces in the future. Hurray for the slow fashion movement!

HappyFace313 said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for taking all those pictures and telling us about what you have seen and heard. I love it! :-)

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Oh what an opportunity!
How exciting to be with the clever craftsmen and women! It must give you a real appreciation for the company and their staff.

Hang T. Tran said...

This is fantastic Jill!!! Thank you so much for sharing this experience to us.
I love the part when Pierre explained about the leather.

xxx
Hang

Lisa said...

What a wonderful event. Thank you for sharing it with us.

That chandelier and the ceiling are so beautiful. Sigh.

gracefully50.com said...

Jill, you realize that was MY orange Kelly he was making, right??
I would have loved to have been there!

Grace said...

Oh, I wish I had known about this festival! What a great experience.

playingwithscarves said...

Hi lucky Jill!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience and your great photos. I am so so jealous... I would have stayed for hours asking questions and wtaching all these craftsmen. No way you could get a demonstration scarf or a Kelly bag for free? HA! And they won't even stop in Florida. GRRRRR.... I hate them. And I love Hermès so much... Thanks agin for sharing. Yiu are my / our NYC antenna...
xoxo from Florida - the boonies!
Anne

Bella Q said...

You've got me interested in this now- thank you for sharing. What a great glimpse into the craft of the this great brand.

grunge-queen said...

Oh Lordie, I would have died to have gone to that, Jill! Hermes has such a tradition of craftsmanship, and it seems they are one of the few (if not the only?) major luxury producer that is still hand-making its goods (although in Annecy, where I now live, everything from sterling bracelets and handbags and clothing are Made In France, often hand-crafted; it is a different mentality here - fast fashion isn't as big as it is in UK and North America and the French pride themselves on quality, tradition and craftsmanship. It must have been like eating a glorious piece of cake to take in all those interesting Hermes facts!

Is it true, do you happen to know, that Hermes still hand-rolls its scarves (could also help to explain the two-day turn-around)? Think I read that somewhere.

I do not own an Hermes (my choice would be a scarf, AND, of course, a Kelly bag), but I do have a framed poster for "A Scarf is Born" Hermes scarf-making exhibition in London in 1989 ... bought at a church sale for five bucks! I joke that it's the closet I'll get to Hermes! :) :)

Anonymous said...

I was able to attend the Festival in San Francisco over the weekend. It was absolutely awesome. Did you hear the scarf demo mention that the engraver spent 1000 hours, an entire year, doing the engraving plates for the Indian maiden scarf? I appreciate my Hermes scarves all the more! Becky

jill815 said...

Catherine my dear, I so miss your blog! I wish you had been at this festival with me. It was just amazing, what a treat to see the craftsmanship right before your eyes and with wonderful explanations to boot. I want a box Kelly even more now and while I save for that, I do believe I am going to add a 90cm scarf to collection. The artwork on those scarves never fails to knock me out. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Sacramento my dear, I'm loving your Milan posts. It was so wonderful to share this Hermes festival with everyone who can't make it to NYC, SF or Houston! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Gracey, yeah, I'm glad I happened to be there when an obviously very knowledgeable Hermes customer asked Pierre leather questions. I got a bonus mini-tutorial from an Hermes craftsman himself! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Oh Pam, I was hoping you could go to the Houston event! You love scarves, you would love the silk screening demonstration! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Rebekah honey, I am so with you, hurray for the slow fashion movement. The older I get the more I know that is the only way to go. I can easily bypass every trend out there in order to save my money to buy one glorious Hermes scarf. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Happy Face, I wonder if you will get to see one of these Festivals? Maybe Hermes will do one in Europe after they leave Asia? If they do and you go, please get pictures and post them! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Hostess, oh yes, I thought I was an Hermes fan before. The festival increased my appreciation and obsession by 100%. I hope they keep making things the way they do today--taking their time, and crafting everything to perfection. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hang if they come anywhere near you with this festival, please go! I want more pictures, from everywhere! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Lisa, yes the old church on Park Avenue that this event was held in was like icing on the cake. The ceiling and chandelier were divine! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Jeannie, ha ha, yes I would've taken that bag too! Even though Pierre talked about not liking that leather much, the Togo, the bag was so beautiful I was like, Hello, I will take that off your hands if you would like! Can you imagine if they'd done a raffle for that bag? It would've been crazy pandemonium in there. It makes me laugh to think about it. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Anne, actually I saw a lady take down one of the scarves that was tied to the bar and security was all over her in a hot minute, asking her, ever so nicely, to please not take down the scarves. I don't know if she just wanted to try it on or try to make it out of there, scarf in hand, but I was surprised she did that! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Oh Bella, I know you like Miu Miu more than Hermes, but I gotta tell you, I can TOTALLY see you in one of their more wild scarf designs. It would look so good on you and you would own it forever! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Grace, did you go to the Chanel jacket class at Mood? I have to find out. You would've loved this festival! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Oh Grunge-Queen, you are so lucky to be in France! Lucky lucky! I need to move there, pronto. I am not into fast fashion at all, I really stay away from trends, unless it's just a certain color, and then I buy nail polish to participate and leave the trendy clothes alone. That way I can save for Hermes! How lucky you are to have that 'A Scarf is Born' poster, I need to look that up, I want to see it. Keep your eyes open for Hermes scarves on eBay, which sometimes can be a lot cheaper than in the store. If there is a certain pattern you like, tell me about it and I will keep my eyes open for you! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Becky, thank you for telling me about how long it took for the engraving for the Indian princess scarf because I did not hear that amazing fact! I had my young daughter with me at the festival and did the best I could to see/hear what I could, but I had to leave before I would've liked because my poor girl had had enough. I know this festival is entirely responsible for my desire for a 90cm scarf, it's time I stepped up from the 70s! Glad you got to see it in San Francisco, wasn't it the best? XO, Jill

Lizzie said...

Lucky, lucky you! When I first read about this I had my fingers crossed that it would be in either Atlanta or Charlotte, but no such luck. Thanks for making it come alive for those of us who could not attend.