You are viewing the Russian Vogue website. If you prefer another country’s Vogue website, select from the list

Хотите получать уведомления о самых важных новостях из мира моды? Да, подписаться

Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Hermès in Wanderland

10 Апреля 2015

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

Who exactly is the flâneur — the figure who saunters down the boulevards, impeccably dressed, swinging his cane? In the case of one collector’s item, the cane has a horse’s head with a tongue poking out under pressure. 

Can a collection of whimsical pieces ever have seemed so elegant as those brought together by Emile Hermès, one of the French company’s long list of family entrepreneurs. 

A small portion of his artefacts form the core of the charming exhibition at London’s Saatchi gallery, known for its modern-art exhibitions. On the upper level that hosts Wanderland (until May 2), the display is modest, intriguing, digitally savvy — and an original way of suggesting both the quirkiness and the craftsmanship behind this famous name. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

“When you join Hermès, you need to be a bit crazy,” said Axel Dumas, the company’s CEO, who was with his cousin Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director. They were in town to show off the refurbished Hermès store on London’s New Bond Street, which has opened up its former offices to let light in on a high-ceilinged area devoted to furnishings, especially the signature orange leather. Outside on the terrace, a Henry Moore statue is displayed among potted trees. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

Both cousins realise how difficult it is to anglicise the word /flâneur/, so quintessentially French, invented in the nineteenth-century Proustian era with a suggestion of a self-aware, male elegance shown off at a leisurely pace. 

“A wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering is second nature to Hermès,” claimed Pierre-Alexis. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

Axel Dumas, praising London as a “happening” spot, seemed to suggest that the once buttoned up Anglo Saxon attitude had changed, making the elegant offerings in the store appropriate for the cosmopolitan city. 


Over at the Saatchi gallery, Pierre-Alexis waxed lyrical about his eccentric great grandfather Emile, who bought his first umbrella at the age of 12, setting off an obsession with collecting that is in view throughout the Wanderland exhibition. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

Out of a selection of the 30,000 artefacts has come what Axel Dumas called an “immersive exhibition” that starts with a room of canes. The walls are inserted with videos, like graphic windows, bringing the objects to life. A dancer juggling with his cane is described as “dancing the cane-cane”, as a riff on the French can-can. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

Throughout, from tiny postage-stamp inserts in objects to floor panels that speak as you walk across them, videography plays an important role in moving the story of a Belle Epoque flâneur fast forward into the twenty-first century. 

Hermès New Bond Street’s Maison area Picture credit: Michel Denance
Hermès New Bond Street’s Maison area Picture credit: Michel Denance

Curator Bruno Gaudichon and scenographer Hubert Le Gall used eight artists to give a touch of Alice in Wonderland zany-ness: hence street lamps turned upside down to stand on their heads. A wall of drawings of famous Parisian places includes motor cars zooming behind a horse-drawn carriage and top-hatted gentlemen from the turn of the century chatting up modern, miniskirted girls. 

A reclining Henry Moore figure sits on the patio of the refurbished Hermès New Bond Street store. Photo by Michel Denance
A reclining Henry Moore figure sits on the patio of the refurbished Hermès New Bond Street store. Photo by Michel Denance

The first step from the room of canes is into competing ladies’ and gentlemen’s salons, hers with a red-tounged horse’s head above Hermès bags hung on the wall. The men’s version has a similar horse’s head but with more obviously collectable objects. The treasures of the Hermès founder are placed alongside objects that failed to sell successfully and are therefore washed up in empty bottles outside the oh-so-French café, named: Cafe des Objets Oubliés or “forgotten objects”. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

The fascinating part of the displays is the mix of historical and digital, as in a room where the candelabra is made of champagne glasses and where a mini Eiffel Tower suddenly swings out of a mirror. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

I was charmed by an open post-box with envelopes addressed to Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf. And I was mesmerised by a paint box with some colours digitally treated to create miniature squares of video, showing moving water. The urban areas include walls boldly splattered with pop-art graffiti by the legendary artist known as Cept. 

Graffiti by the artist Cept
Graffiti by the artist Cept

The most Gallic city scenery is the creation of a shopping galerie — the nineteenth-century genus of today’s shopping mall. The classic shop windows included the French version of the British “bull in the china shop” — a hefty elephant stepping its vast feet on a dainty blue tea pot. 

Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort
Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. Picture credit: James Bort

Perhaps only a privately owned luxury company could produce such an engaging exhibition that spends a fair amount of time laughing at itself and celebrates the quirkiness of its family history. But this theatre of illusions has a clear message when it reaches the final curtain. That is, in fact, a door, which appears to be three dimensional with curlicues and decoration. In reality, it is a flat surface given twenty-first-century digital depth. 

“The future is digital,” announces Axel Dumas. And that turns Wanderland into Wonderland.

Staircase to the first floor of Hermès New Bond Street. Photo by Michel Denance
Staircase to the first floor of Hermès New Bond Street. Photo by Michel Denance

Instagram @SuzyMenkesVogue 
Twitter @SuzyMenkesVogue 
Facebook.com/SuzyMenkes

еще в разделе Suzy Menkes

Hermès in Wanderland

The Yoox Net-A-Porter deal

Why it is good news for the worlds young designers

комментарии /

самое популярное

Вещь дня: костюм Mango
Выбор VOGUE Вещь дня: костюм Mango

Вельветовый, теплый и красивый


подписка на журнал

Для Вас все самое интересное
и свежее в мире моды

VOGUE на планшете

Свежий номер журнала
по специальной цене

VOGUE на iphone

Скачайте
по специальной цене!

VOGUE коллекции

Для iPhone
и iPad

Vogue Россия
в Facebook

Vogue Россия
в Vkontakte

Vogue Россия
в Twitter

Видео-канал
VOGUE Россия

vogue россия
в instagram

Instagram

Самые яркие
фото VOGUE.ru