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Once upon a time, luxury was only available to the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty; luxury wasn’t simply a product, it was a lifestyle. It meant something – – – a history of tradition, superior quality and a pampered buying experience. Today, the luxury market is less about quality and more about quantity. Well all is not lost; one luxury brand that still has a keen eye for craftsmanship is Hermès.


Almost two centuries ago, a royal coronation might be delayed until the arrival of its exquisitely stitched Hermès carriage fittings, just as today even the richest women must wait for an exquisitely stitched Hermès Birkin bag. With the family-run French company passing to a sixth generation, the author chronicles its rise to global pre-eminence, where a modern aesthetic meets the humble tools—awls, mallets, needles, knives, and stones—of unsurpassed tradition.


‘The world is divided into two: those who know how to use tools, and those who do not. We are an industrial company with 12 divisions, which designs, makes, and retails its products. We aren’t a holding company.”


For 28 years, from 1978 to 2006, the most quotable voice in retail—pragmatic, poetic—came from Jean-Louis Dumas, the head of a company that in every other way speaks with its hands. It is an old company with a Protestant spine and a Parisian perfectionism, one of the oldest family-owned-and-controlled companies in France. Its name alone prompts sighs of desire among those in the know, and those in the know run the gamut from French housewife to fashionista to queen (both kinds), from social climber to Olympic equestrian to C.E.O. The name itself is a sigh, a flight, and its proper pronunciation must often be taught. “Air-mez”—as in the messenger god with winged sandals. Mischievous, witty, ingenious Hermès.


“We don’t have a policy of image, we have a policy of product.”



Dumas, fifth generation of the Hermès family, was eminently quotable because he expressed clear concepts that made sense in any language. Though Hermès is grouped with other luxury brands, it hovers ineffably higher, apart, and not only because it is more costly. Dumas himself frowns at the term “luxury,” disliking its arrogance, its hint of decadence. He preferred the word “refinement,” and intrinsic to that refinement is what Hermès won’t do. It does not boast, does not use celebrities in advertising, does not license its name, does not let imperfect work leave the atelier (imperfect work is destroyed), does not get its head turned by trends. What it does do—Dumas’s “policy of product”—is create necessary objects made from the most beautiful materials on earth, each so intelligently designed and deeply well made it transcends fashion (which is good because the pieces last for generations). 


“Time is our greatest weapon.”


(Hermès Kelly)

Under Dumas’s brilliant leadership, Hermès became a brave-new-world company, growing global in a sustained, savvy, relatively debt-free ascent that was prepared for in the 80s, rocketed in the 90s, and continued to climb after 2000 even as other luxury brands slipped. Young women in Japan, China, and Russia now buy their own Kellys. 

Paris is no longer the only destination for those who want incomparable leather goods, scarves, ties, and iconic jewelry and watches—Hermès now has 283 stores worldwide, 4 of them flagships. Dumas set the tone for Hermès as a fierce competitor that competes only with itself and keeps winning. Upon his retirement, he handed the reins to members of the family’s sixth generation, who must now find their own relationship with time.


(Hermès Birkin)

It began with Thierry Hermès, the sixth child of an innkeeper. He was born a French citizen in the German town of Krefeld, land that in 1801 was part of Napoleon’s empire. Having lost all of his family to disease and war, Hermès went to Paris an orphan, proved gifted in leatherwork, and opened a shop in 1837, the same year Charles Lewis Tiffany opened his doors in New York. Today the two companies have the most distinctive color signatures in retail—Hermès orange and Tiffany robin’s-egg blue—but there the similarity ends. Where Tiffany began in stationery and costume jewelry, Hermès specialized in the horse harnesses required by society traps, calèches, and carriages. The dynamics of animal power and grace, movement and travel, energy controlled and the outdoors enjoyed, are deep in the lifeline of Hermès. It was a business built on the strength of a stitch that can only be done by hand, the saddle stitch, which has two needles working two waxed linen threads in tensile opposition. It is a handsome, graphic stitch, and done properly it will never come loose.

The clients of Thierry Hermès were rich: the Parisian beau monde and European royalty, including the emperor Napoléon III and his empress, Eugénie. But Thierry’s true client—the wings on his sandals—was the horse, whose hauteur in this era was unrivaled. It was in equipage that the Hermès allure took form, born of a linear integrity, a tailored masculinity, its richness lying in the leather and in hardware honestly, elegantly designed. 

Thierry’s successor and son, Emile-Maurice Hermès, shifted the focus of the company at the turn of the 20th century away from the horse and towards plane, car, and train travel. Hermès manufactured trunks, bags, overnight cases, from its signature saddle leather. 

Emile also purchased the building at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, which still houses the flagship store as well as the workshops and has been the home of Hermès—ever since. In that same year of 1880, saddlery was added, a custom business that required measurements from both horse and rider.

(24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris)

Added as well in the 19th century, another Hermès institution: the wait. Because handstitched perfection cannot be rushed, royal coronations were sometimes delayed until Hermès fittings for the carriage and the guard had arrived. In this century, the waitlist for items such as the magnificent Birkin, a handbag created in 1984 for the actress Jane Birkin, can stretch to five years. One Birkin takes 18 to 25 hours to make, and the Paris workrooms produce only five or so each week; these supply Hermès stores worldwide.



Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès as a saddlery company, the business has remained mostly in the control of the Hermès family for almost two hundred years. Today, the house of Hermès produces ready-to-wear fashion, home decor, jewelery, luggage, and fragrances as well as saddles.



Do You Know::


 It takes two alligators to create the Hermès Kelly bag. The best exotic skin is found on the jowls and tummy of the gator. The belly is used for the body of the bag and the neck skin becomes the sides.


The story behind Hermès’s signature color “Orange”.. Orange was the only color widely available during World War II to the money-saving benefits of raw-edge cutting, which had been marketed to the public as a cutting-edge, avant-garde innovation.

 

 

 

 

In 1837 the family-run French company Hermès used humble tools including awls, mallets, needles, knives, and stones.. Surprisingly some of the exact same tools are still used today to create the modern pieces.


 

Iconic H Logo Hermès Buckle::



For years, an Hermes shopper could buy the iconic H logo buckle and an assortment of straps separately. Then, in the dreaded 90’s, the rules changed and dictated that straps and buckles would only be sold as sets.

Well, now you can once again buy single belt straps sans buckle. The latest colors are gorgeous, from the classic orange to white to bright yellow to denim.  The belt straps sale for $350.





a must have if you’re a purveyor of good taste and classic styling! – ti$a


The Hermès Birkin Bag::


The Birkin, perhaps the most famous handbag in the world, 
was named for singer and actress Jane Birkin. 
 

While rummaging through her bag on an airplane she was complaining that her Kelly was not practical for everyday use, Ms. Birkin just happened to be sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the Chairman of Hermès.  She co-designed the bag with president Jean-Louis Dumas in the 1980’s and the Birkin bag was born.





Hermès Carbon Fiber Briefcase x $16,000::



 

Hermes is acknowledged as one of the most luxurious and prestigious brands in the world that offers a range of beautiful items from scarves to handbags and gloves to clothing.


The carbon fiber briefcase from the house speaks of style, sleekness and lavishness. It has a carbon fiber outercase, tan leather inner lining and handle, 18K gold plated locks and classic styling.


To make it more personal, the small plate on the briefcase can be engraved with your name initials. The carbon fiber briefcase is the just right thing for the executives to make a style statement. Only 500 units have been put into production and each carries a price tag of US $16,000.


 

Designer Helicopter by Hermès and Eurocopter::


French Luxury Brand Hermés and Eurocopter have created magic with their designer new copter, the L’helicoptre par Hermès. Italian designer Gabriele Pezzini was roped in to add the touch of class and transform the mundane interiors to something that would meet the approvals of Mr. Moneybags. The helicopter is based on the eurocpter EC135, the company’s best selling lightweight, twin-engined helicopter. Bothe the engineers of Eurocopter and craftsmen of Hermés toiled together and separately to deliver a stunning creation. Approximately 55 modifications were suggested but ultimately only 50 were commissioned. One of the major modifications was done to the helicopter’s landing gear. Pezzini designed a completely new form that improved the functionality of the step, while subtly matching the overall color scheme. The door handles and other exterior parts were replaced to co-ordinate with the color pallet. Signature Hermès ‘toile h’ canvas has been used to do up the interiors. The seats and banquettes are covered in calf’s leather. A look at the insides and you’re floored by its chic, sophisticated looks.




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