Sunday saw the final crowds of people flocking to Burlington Gardens in time for the Hermes, Leather Forever exhibition. The exhibition celebrated 175 years of the Hermes brand which was founded back in 1837 by Thierry Hermes.
Hermes have had a victorious relationship with leather, creating some of the world's most prestigious leather goods. Many of the It Bags worn by the Fash Pack hail from the ateliers of Hermes and the exhibition takes the viewer on a poetic journey through the history of the brand, starting with the leather saddles which gave Hermes their iconic status. The exhibition begins in a small, dimly lit room which houses the fine skins used in the production of the Hermes bags. Delicate kid skin was draped across a table whilst the more exotic ostrich, crocodile and lizard skins hung from a cabinet showing off their bright colours. Visitors were encouraged to get a feel of the skins on display, allowing them to fully appreciate the whole design process behind the iconic bags. In the centre of this room, a cutting table adorned with a brightly coloured calf skin illustrated the pattern cutting technique used for the Kelly and Birkin bags. Each individual piece needed for these bags was projected onto the leather ready to be cut out and sewn.
The design process was illustrated further by the craftspeople working away in one of the exhibition rooms. Demonstrations were being held throughout the day with visitors able to see the design process from start to finish. The tools, tool cases, scraps of leather, beeswax and silver chunky scissors all helped conjure up the feeling of being in an atelier and visitors stood transfixed by the awe of it all. The exhibition certainly tapped into all five senses with the smells of the leather filling your lungs, the bright colours of the skins, the taste of the fumes from the production and the different textures of flooring all working together to feed the mind.
This new approach to fashion exhibitions, also seen with the Christian Louboutin Exhibition, not only provides valuable PR for the brand but proves that people want to see something more than just beautiful, luxurious products, people want to buy into the experience. By hosting a sensory guide to the world of Hermes, the iconic bags produced by the brand become even more memorable as they are ingrained into our minds through the use of smell as well as sight.
Leather Forever opened up the traditional, closed world of luxury goods and presented it to the masses. Hermes branding was prevalent across the whole exhibition with card holders shaped like a Birkin and Renaissance style sculptures wearing a beautiful Kelly, adding a fun, playful aspect to the brand. As long as this vitality can be sustained by Hermes, the company and it's leather goods will live on forever.
If you were unable to attend the exhibition you can still view the online version which offers a brief glimpse of what the exhibition was like: click here