Red riding in the hood with Rouges Herm
When Herms opened their store at The Chanakya in Delhi two years ago, plans were afoot in the Paris headquarters to start a Herms Heritage travelling exhibition. It would show the world what the brand was all about: one that has stayed relevant far beyond its harness crafting origins in 1837. While the first two exhibitions Harnessing the Roots and In Motion have been showed abroad, the newest, Rouges Herms, is in India starting today, following shows in Jakarta and Bangkok.
The exhibit features a white, box like structure in the mall’s central atrium, with five rooms showcasing 81 pieces, all in various shades of red which explains the name of the exhibit. The crimson of the brand stemmed from the design of the original store in Faubourg Saint Honor, Paris. It later found resonance in luggage boxes in the early 1920s.
The pieces were selected by Mnhould de Bazelaire du Chatelle, artistic director of cultural patrimony, along with independent curator Bruno Gaudichon and set designer Laurence Fontaine. They largely drew from the collections of the third generation president of the brand, mile Herms, and company archives.
In an email interview, Chatelle, who has been with the brand for 33 years, talks of what went into the exhibition and how they stay relevant.
In what way was the spirit of mile Herms retained in every object?l Among the replica hermes trays
founding expressions of the Herms adventure, the colour red has had a special and rich story, with almost 40 hues. We proposed that Bruno Gaudichon visit the mile Herms collection of antiques, our archives, the conservatory of vintage creations and our recent collections. With his fresh eyes, we hoped to discover the variety of this colour on different materials like leather, silk, crystal, wood, earth, even straw, paper or mica.
What were the challenges?l To make drastic choices from the abundance of pieces. It was crafted for a general of the French cavalry. A more modest [exhibit] is the wood painting of the Herms house in the late 19th century, with its red roof a rather moving memory of the first steps of our company. Then there is an Opera silk gown, inspired by the traditional dress for riding side saddle. Its deep and vibrant red suggests the curtain that veils the opera stage.
How do you continue to innovate?l By finding creative possibilities to nourish the designers’ imagination. For instance, the Sac dpches, originally designed around 1930 as a classic briefcase for men, was inspired by the late 18th century leather portfolio. We revisited this in 2017 as a lighter variant. The Cabacity bag was imagined in 2015 to offer two bags in one which can also be carried in two different ways.
Do you have any interesting stories around the exhibition?l Both in Jakarta and Bangkok, Rouges Herms had a wonderful reception, as it uncovered some secrets of our maison’s long memory and inspiration. From my own experience, the series of bags and luggage made me realise that red has something to do with the desire for movement. Again, the painting of the Herms house in Paris is like a beacon from the past, inspiring our creations today.