September 24, 2012

the one thing: hermès festival des métiers.

the one thing Uncategorized

hermès is such an iconic brand on so many levels. the company, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, is considered the nes plus ultra among many in the leather goods world, and they known for their exquisite craftsmanship in other categories, like jewelry, clothing, and home goods. normally you have to be in paris to see this work firsthand, but right now the “festival des métiers” is touring the u.s., with its second leg being in san francisco. on saturday, annie and i ventured down to union square to check it out.

the exhibit had booths for shirt and tie making, jewelry, leathers, glasswares, and more, but i had two favorites where i could have stood all day. the first was the jewelry making table, where faustine was individually placing brown diamonds on the studs of a rose gold collier de chien cuff (picture #3). the bracelet, which retails for $120,000, is solid 18k rose gold and has a total of 5 carats of diamonds. it’s an incredible piece of jewelry where each bracelet is made to order by hand—it takes over a month to do the studs alone.

i also loved seeing the scarf making and two crucial steps in that process. there’s the artist who creates each plate for screen printing (picture #5); she demonstrated how she goes about shading or developing those soft wisps of hair. then henri, who has been perfecting his craft for 44 years after learning from his father at age 14, screenprints each layer. as our narrator told us, “each scarf has to tell a story,” so they work with many artists to create a 90cm by 90cm tale. the screens are done from light to dark, small area to large, and slowly the design is revealed (pictures #6 and #7). from start to finish, it can take two years for a scarf to go from design to in-store. i have screen printed before in school, but nothing to level of detail
of a hermès scarf, which can have upwards of 47 colors and very
intricate detailing.

overall, it was an amazing experience and definitely brings to light all of the great work these artisans do. if you’re in san francisco, the festival runs through today (open 11-6), then will move to houston from october 10-14. if you can’t experience it in person, the website allows you a peek into this world, with interactive games and videos, or check out hearts and crafts, a film about the people that make hermès products.