One of the best things about starting this little blog is the invites I have received to all manner of events, and last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to a private preview of the Hermés ‘Leather Forever’ exhibition.
On arrival at the Royal Academy of Art’s sister space, 6 Burlington Gardens, I was too excited to tuck into the delicious looking breakfast on offer and instead headed straight to the exhibition space where I found myself being sucked back in time by the heady leather scent which filled the room as I set off to explore of the 175 year history of the world’s most stylish leather goods and accessory company.
In total there were 12 rooms in the exhibition showcasing six generations of the prestigious family brand and their artisan crafts including equestrian, travel, handbags and a collection of other leather accessories. As I entered the first room I was confronted by a stack of uncut leather in every shade imaginable, the sight was extraordinary, something almost Laurence of Arabia like about the scene.
Part of this fascinating installation includes the opportunity to see how several of the products are created. Two of Hermés own leather craftsmen from the Paris workshop were on site at the Leather Forever exhibition blissfully and skillfully working away to construct some of the most sought after products in the world. Watching such talent one was able to see how precise the workmanship is in creating such pieces as the exhibition provides a real insight into the luxury French brands use of the fabric and its relationship to leather. Given such attention to detail, it came as no surprise to learn that it takes over 48 man hours to construct the idiolised Birkin bag – the most coveted fashion accessory ever produced.
As a guest of what I can only describe as one of the most beautiful and intriguing exhibitions I have had the privilege of visiting, I along with other bloggers were encouraged to interact with the installations by feeling and smelling the different materials used by the artisans and to examine the most intricate of patterns from which they work. The exhibition has been curated to be as opulent as the brand itself, it is a gloriously visual, tactile, olfactory and surprisingly poetic journey which I found enthralling and educational.