It has been a hectic but incredibly exciting week catching up with both new and old friends. In fact, Lil L and I got in our front door just before midnight after a day out with a very old friend of mine whom I've known since I was 7. There's something special about a friendship that's lasted this long. We will be back in London again later in the week to see another buddy of mine soon. Can't wait! Who knew an introvert (moi) can turn into a social butterfly when given the chance?!
After many emails and tweets back and forth, Fauxionista, Kelly and I finally met up face to face. What do 3 bag obsessed ladies do when we catch up? Yup, you've guessed right. We checked out bags or in the other words, The Rolls Royce of all bags - Hermès. Hermès' Festival Des Métiers (or otherwise known as Rendezvous with Hermès craftspeople) is in town. And for the first time, photography wasn't banned.
This particular Lyon based artisan (1st photo) is in fact, the only craftsperson in the world that specializes in making velvet out of thick 2 ply silk scarves. Hermes originally employed the services of a couple who used to produce these handiwork to train 3 of their employees in order to ensure that the art does not die out. Two of them decided not to continue but this lady did. She now has 3 apprentices. Each piece takes anything from 4 to 7 days to make and are only available through their special order service or Ready To Wear collection.
The young watchmaker based in Switzerland painstakingly put each minuscule piece together to create a watch. It's all done by hand with such precision. I think I appreciate my automatic Cape Code watch a lot more now.
The jeweler was making diamond encrusted studs similar to the ones you see on the Collier de Chien cuff bracelets.
I was enthralled by the entire process of breaking down and interpreting an artist's work in order to prepare the design for screen printing. The making of a scarf was fascinating. Every step from designing, screen printing, hemming to the final product is done by hand which requires such meticulous concentration and rigorous quality control. Nadine who had a background of hairdressing has been doing this for 30 years. The Wa'ko-ni (an Indian princess) art piece had 40 colors and took her nearly 2000 hours to draw and separate the design into various transparent sheets.
The tie making station
Having visited a factory in Turkey, I wasn't exactly a stranger to the process of making ceramics. However, Hermès certainly takes it to another level using platinum paints which costs approximately €4000 for a 30ml bottle. I guess there isn't room for silly mistakes then. Did you know that they use those cute Bonne Maman jam jars for their paints?
See that to die for Kelly 32cm retourne in Taurillon Clemence leather? It had the EXACT combination that I wanted along with the canvas strap that I'd be willing to get on my knees and beg for. Yup, I was
The Hermès marketing ploy is brilliant. If you didn't think you'd ever want an Hermes accessory before, you'll definitely want one now. There's no way that even the most skeptical person could have walked out the door after seeing these artisans at work, to not appreciate the rare and traditional craftsmanship that would've died out had companies like Hermes not preserve them.