Hermès Home Accessories
I tweeted about it when I was boarding my plane to Paris, but my phone died soon after, so naturally I had to blog about my glorious week with Hermès. The French company invited me to attend the opening of their new flagship store on the left bank, which features their expanded home collection. As always, I was fully impressed by Hermès’ exquisite presentation and attention to every last detail. Everything was exceptional.
We stayed at the Hôtel Pont Royal in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près. This gorgeous invitation for the party (above) was set out in the room when I arrived, along with our itinerary and a specially printed booklet with information on things to do in the area. All of the elements carried the same blue and white colour scheme, with a hint of Hermès orange, and a wave pattern motif — a nod to the fact that the new store is housed in what used to be a traditional public pool, complete with a grand staircase and three-storey arcade. These are just a few components in their holistic approach to the brand. All part of a lovely welcome.
We also received a customized Hermès newspaper, fittingly geared to journalists, with more details and background on the store’s design and architecture — a refreshing change from the usual press kit.
The bathroom vanity included a set of customized Hermès soapboxes with logo-stamped perfume soaps. Of course I brought them home with me!
The party was scheduled for the following night. We arrived at the dimly-lit store where guests were gathered in the upper arcade portion of the space, while below, a group of children in blue bathing suits and white bathing caps frolicked in ‘pool-deck’ area, led by a lifeguard with a whistle. Keeping with the theme, an amplified dripping water sound set a dramatic and surreal mood. It was breathtaking — theatrical and whimsical, in tune with the Hermès brand.
When the lower level was ready to be opened, the children donned terrycloth robes and lined each side of the grand staircase. As guests descended they clapped and called out “Bonsoir Madame, Bonsoir Monsieur” as we went by. I felt like I was playing a part in a piece of performance art.
Projected on the three-storey wall above us were gigantic video projections of underwater swimmers — again with the pool and water theme. Stunning!
The highlight of the space was the three massive pods made of crisscrossing bentwood situated in the middle of the space. They housed most of the new home accessories and divided the main floor space into intimate vignettes. They reminded me of the giant twig pod in Where the Wild Things Are. But according to the architect, Denis Montel of RDAI, they were inspired by the rib cages of whales.
Here is a floor level perspective of the pods. The blue and white floor tiles were exquisite, and in certain areas were laid out in a wave-like pattern with sparkling tiles worked into the blue and white. The floors glimmered slightly like water in sunlight.
From inside the pods, the clever design created a cocoon effect that beautifully offset the merchandise.
The drapery was perhaps my favourite addition to the new home collection — especially the bold stripes. The drapes appeared to be hand-loomed and were super chic. They also have an equally stunning line of wallpaper.
The bedding was all about elegant simplicity, with a distinctly organic and modern feel.
These cashmere throws and blankets in neutral shades were quite possibly the softest things I’ve ever felt.
Of course some mainstay home items were also on display with the new accessories and furniture. This silver tray with leather straps and gold and white patterned Mosaique china, for instance, is quintessential Hermès.
The entire fashion line, including their signature scarves, is also available in the store, and was on display in the areas outside the pods. I love how this cashmere and silk scarf (on my Christmas wish list!) was suspended and backlit like a work of art.
The new left bank flagship store also includes a café, bookshop, florist and, of course, any Hermès item you’ve ever dreamed of owning. At the end of one of the press events, we were sent away with this lovely little bouquet of white flowers that brightened up my hotel room for the rest of the trip.
The day before the party we were treated to an exclusive tour of the Hermès museum. It houses an array of artifacts that serve as inspiration for many of their current designs. Hermès looks to the leatherwork and tooling of horse straps and buckles as well as the detailed consideration in travel items and campaign style pieces from the turn of the century. A standout was this antique travel case (left), with everything needed to replicate the comforts of home on a long journey — everything from nail clippers to sewing supplies to a full tea service — and everything slips into its own fitted slot. I also spotted this patio drinks and game set (right) with the same sense of compartmentalization, but in a striking Mediterranean blue leather.
I have always been a big fan of Hermès, and seeing the company’s attention to detail and incredible vision only impressed me more.
The new spring home collection will be rolled out into Canadian stores starting in January. And keep an eye out for our April 2011 issue, which will showcase even more of the Hermès home line — the furniture, wallpaper, and more — with better photography than mine, I promise!
For our Torontonian readers, check out the Hermes silk pop-up shop that’s open on Yonge Street until this Sunday, December 5th. 1099 Yonge Street, just north of Rosedale.