The fashion world was in mourning this weekend, after news that Jean-Louis Dumas [pictured above], the former chief executive officer of Hermes had died in Paris on Saturday, at the age of 72, after a long illness.
While condolences from the biggest names in fashion came flooding in for the much-respected businessman (and descendant of the house’s founder, Thierry Hermès), something rather more unexpected, and unprecedented happened too.
Hermes former designer, Martin Margiela, the notoriously enigmatic and media-shy recluse, was so moved by the news that he broke his silence with the media for the first time in years, to pay tribute to his former boss.
In a statement released to WWD, Margiela recalled of his former mentor “his insatiable curiosity stimulated creation, he loved to surprise and be surprised, his charisma and aura enchanted me and his hard work ethic and sense of humor always amazed me.”
It was Dumas who chose the avant-garde designer to head up womenswear at the legendary luxury label in 1997, an appointment that sent shockwaves around the industry.
Margiela remembered “when we first met, he asked me anxiously if I was going to cut the ‘Kelly’ in half because, at the time, the press used the words ‘grunge’ and ‘destroy’ to describe my work.”
But Dumas was always more than just a businessman; his position at Hermes combining the rather more creative role of artistic director with that of chairman, “from the start, he had total confidence in me and gave me carte blanche” claimed Margiela “it just proved how open-minded he was”. Margiela worked with Dumas at Hermes for five years, before leaving in 2002.
Dumas funeral will take place in Paris on Friday. It is not known if Margiela will attend. But having not been photographed, or even seen by the media for years, (except by a couple of trusted journalist friends), it is possible the designer may yet be able to pay his last respects, undetected.