There is nothing like the sheer elegance of a well crafted article of leather, especially one that comes from a house that has a long tradition of fine craftsmanship in skins. The house, Hermès, which had its beginnings as a master harness-maker and later as saddlemakers, has just that. Founded in Paris in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the house has come a long way in the business of creating and crafting fine objects of desire from some of the most beautiful skins in the world.
Inside Hermès’ wonderful Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place – a rare show of objects from Emile Hermès’ collection which is now a source of inspiration for the house’s designers.
As a treat specially crafted for this jubilee year, the house gives us in Singapore an opportunity to step into the world of fine leather craftsmanship in a exhibition Leather Forever that runs from 25 October to 13 December at the ArtScience Museum. The exhibition, which also includes a prelude to it at the Little Room of Wanders at Empress Place, takes visitors through some of the inspirations behind its creations, to the art and craft of leather working and to the house’s intriguing range of products that include some rather quirky looking items from its Special Orders Workshop.
A side facing saddle designed to seat a woman in the Little Room of Wanders.
Equestrian objects such as spurs feature in the collection.
A intricately decorated trunk from Spain.
The Little Room of Wanders offers a rare peek into Emile Hermès’ collection.
Especially fascinating is Hermès’ Little Room of Wanders which contains a rare public display of a selection of objects from the incredible collection of Emile Hermès, the grandson of the founder. Emile Hermès, who took over the business in the early 1900s, had spent a lifetime assembling some a 15,000 item collection. Now housed in the private by-appointment-only Emile Hermès Museum, the collection of objects of art, equestrian objects, ingenious mechanisms, books and the most unusual of knick-knacks has since become a source of inspiration for Hermès’ designers.
A camera shaped flask in the collection.
A close-up of a saddle from China.
A travel case in the collection.
The exhibition proper, Leather Forever, at the ArtScience Musuem is also well worth a look at. This starts with visitors having a look at some of the background work in Hermès’ creations in its leather reserve seen in the Savoire Faire section. Here an introduction is give to the classification, cutting and assembly of skins. What must certainly be a treat will be a chance to see artisans, flown specially in from the house’s Parisian workshops, at work in recreating some of the house’s iconic leather bags.
An artisan from Hermès’ Paris workshop at work at the ArtScience Museum.
Part of Hermès’ Leather Reserve.
A demo of how the leather is prepared for cutting.
Finished objects of desire.
Speaking of icons, a selection of the house’s range of its legendary Kellys and Birkins, are also conspicuously on show along with variations as well as other leather crafted objects that the house’s icons have inspired. Among the variations of the Kelly, which was re-christened after Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco used it famously to conceal her pregnancy from the paparazzi, or as the house puts it, as a bodyguard for the future Princess Caroline, are five Kellydoll bags on display designed to each represent each decade of Singapore’s independence.
Variations on the legendary Kelly.
Horsing around with a rocking Kelly.
One of the five Kellydoll bags designed to each represent a decade of Singapore’s independence.
The exhibitions are opened from 10am to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday and from 10am to 9pm on Friday and admission is free. More information on them can be found at http://lfe.hermes.com/sg/en.
The first ever bag with a zipper, aka the “Hermès Fastener,” fitted to it. Emile Hermès held a patent for the zipper which was fitted to a bag designed to be quickly secured for the age of the automobile.
A saddle leather bustier designed Jean Paul Gaultier for Hermès (notice the Kelly inspired straps).
A baseball glove out of the Special Orders Workshop.
An apple carrier (complete with knife and holder) on loan from its owner who commissioned it to allow him to carry his apple a day.
A gift commissioned in 1947 by the Duke of Windsor for Wallis Simpson, a leather wheelbarrow, inspired by the Duke’s observation that the duchess already had “wheelbarrows” of fragrances and gloves.
A winged saddle made at Hermès Sellerie workshop.
Zouzou, a ostrich skin rhino created by Leïla Menchari for the windows of the 24 Faubourg Saint Honoré store in 1978 at the entrance to the exhibition.
The exhibition gives visitors a chance to horse around.
A case of miniatures.
A door bolt inspired fastener.
A flight of fancy on a motorcycle.
Travel cases from the days when the romance of travel was at its height.
A travel wardrobe.
A dance inspired leather bag.