Hermes, Festival des Metiers – Sydney

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For the upcoming weekend, from October 2nd – 6th, Hermes world renowned “Festival des Metiers” will take centre stage at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. I was fortunate to have been invited to a private showing of the Festival, allowing time to speak with Guillaume de Seynes (Executive Vice President of Hermes and Chairman of John Lobb) and Kamel Hamadou (Head of Silk Printing), two warm and charming men, each in love with the crafts in their own ways. Kamel a gregarious, beaming Lyonese and Guillaume, refined, calm and thoroughly open.

Kamel Hamadou, holding a bundle of raw silk

Kamel Hamadou, holding a bundle of raw silk

Guillaume des Seynes

Guillaume des Seynes

Having held court in numerous cities around the globe, including London, New York and Tokyo, the Festival des Metiers is Hermes own unique way of giving the world an insight into its craftsmen and women who create the Houses’ famous silks, leather-goods and accessories.

Edging towards the end of its second century of family owned operations, authenticity and craftsmanship remain the heart of the Hermes brand. Whilst many other luxury houses have moved towards outsourcing production to cheaper countries or replacing humans for machines, Hermes remains resolutely in house and hand-made at every possible opportunity. By bringing their craftspeople in direct contact with the public and showing exactly how the house produces many of its key offerings, it allows others to understand the level of skill, time and detail which goes into the successful production of each piece.

Diamonds being inserted into a bracelet

Diamonds being inserted into a bracelet

Saddle making

Saddle making

A Kelly bag coming together

A Kelly bag coming together

Porcelain painting

Porcelain painting

Spools of thread for the numerous colour combinations of Kelly bags

Spools of thread for the numerous colour combinations of Kelly bags

Somewhat predictably, my interest rested firmly with Hermes tie maker, Evelyne and next week I’ll write a separate article dedicated specifically to showing step by step how an Hermes tie is made, from raw silk to finished product.

Evelyne, beginning another tie

Evelyne, beginning another tie

Kamel, with a printed tie, waiting to be cut

Kamel, with a printed tie, waiting to be cut

Whilst tie making is possibly the most interesting metier for men to see, the entire collection is valuable to take the time to explore, as you’ll walk away from the experience with a far greater understanding of the details that come together in the creation of exceptional watches, jewelry and leather goods.

The early stages of an Hermes scarf. Each clear screen is a hand-drawn outline of one layer of a scarf

The early stages of an Hermes scarf. Each clear screen is a hand-drawn outline of one layer of a scarf

Outlines being drawn by hand

Outlines being drawn by hand

Consistently the major attraction is one of Hermes most famous disciplines, the printing of a silk scarf.  The level of precision, time and care required to produce a single Hermes scarf is staggering, with up to 46 individual screens being applied separately, each with a different colour, until a final image is created, which most would agree is without peer anywhere else in the world. Fortunately, the ties are made in the same way, giving current or future owners of an Hermes tie a thorough appreciation for how they come together.

The (almost) finished scarf

The (almost) finished scarf

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Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street Sydney.

Exhibition opening hours: 11am-7pm from October 2nd-6th.

 

 

Andrew is an Australian born writer, covering the world's leading bespoke tailors and craftspeople in menswear, with a focus on authentic quality, over branding. He spends most of his days running his successful (god knows how) consulting company and travels frequently to Europe for work and writing. He's a passionate cyclist, former trainee professional golfer and lover of all things Cocker Spaniel. He's married to his best friend and significantly better half, Mehri.

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