25 March 2013

Festival des Métiers: A Rendezvous With Hermès Craftspeople At The Saatchi Gallery

Everybody wants a piece of Hermès. Fashion folklore has it that Victoria Beckham owns a Birkin bag in every colour of the rainbow, which isn’t bad given the notorious waiting list not to mention a price tag which starts at around £6,000.

Festival des Métiers: A Rendezvous With Hermès Craftspeople At The Saatchi Gallery

Festival des Métiers in New York

Somewhat more heavyweight (in more ways than one): Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man and president of luxury good conglomerate LVMH, which boasts, among many others, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior as part of its stable, has slowly but surely built up more than a 22 per cent stake of shares in the company. The family that still controls it – namely the Puechs, Guerrands and Dumas – is not amused and is attempting to stop him in his stealthy, wealthy tracks by any means possible.

Any intrigue aside – and a status label wouldn’t be a status label without more than its fair share of that - now, this most covetable of all brands is opening its doors to Londoners and offering the opportunity for those in the British capital to view the unparalleled craftsmanship with which it has made, and maintained, its name first hand.

Festival des Métiers: A Rendezvous With Hermès Craftspeople At The Saatchi Gallery

Festival des Métiers in New York

In May, Festival de Metiers entails Hermès installing some of the makers of its discreetly luxurious wares at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea in a bid to reveal its magical manufacturing processes to all. Marvel at the whir of machinery as the iconic silk scarf is printed before your very eyes. Feel free to chat to the creators of fine jewellery, ties, watches and, yes, those marvelous bags who are on hand to answer any questions as they work.

A spot of history. Hermès was founded by Thierry Hermès in Paris in 1837, as a house of master harness- and later saddle-making, catering to the needs of Tsars and Emperors alike. Six generations later and in possession of new skills while continuing to perfect any older ones, it is by now an internationally recognised name that has continued to grow boasting what it fairly describes as “a uniquely creative spirit that blends precision manufacturing with traditional craftsmanship”. At the end of 2012 Hermès had 10,118 employees’ worldwide and 346 stores.

Festival des Métiers: A Rendezvous With Hermès Craftspeople At The Saatchi Gallery

Festival des Métiers in New York

It’s safe to say, then, that such attention to quality and technical prowess is paying dividends. Despite a rocky economic climate, in Febuary this year, Hermès posted profits of 22.5 per cent to 3.48 billion euros in the last quarter of 2012 as compared to LVMH’s rise of 12 per cent and Burberry’s of 11.3 per cent.

For mere mortals, actually owning any of its product may still be off limits but that shouldn’t stop us dreaming and, with that in mind, Hermès Festival des Metiers is doubtless a hell of a day out.

Admission to Festival des Métiers is free and open to the public from 22 May – 28 May 2013 at the Saatchi Gallery: Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4R

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