The ubiquitous Birkin bag tends to come along with the ubiquitous question, “why so expensive?” The Festival des Metiers answers this accurately, extensively and perhaps even drives you to think that maybe, just maybe, debt isn’t so bad. Tuesday night of this week prematurely kicked off the Hermes hosted event. It’s essentially a celebration that marks the gathering of several of the skilled craftsmen from Paris that travel to the big international cities and spread the Hermes gospel. Some with speech, yes, but most with their disposition and the proof that every piece of Hermes–even the shirt buttons–is a work of art.
When I walked into the grandiose room at 583 Park, I was met with (champagne,) a long, elegant bleached wood rack infiltrated by silk scarves of virtually every color variety. Next to the rack stood a man behind what looked like three very large square tables. He was printing a scarf. On one table, paint covered a block of silk. On another, something seemed to be drying and on the last, the man behind the table noted, “this, madames et monsieurs, is why you must dry clean your scarves.” The prints are original, created in house, and come to fruition by way of real paint.
At a more remote station, crystal glasses were being illustrated with gold. I made the silly mistake of asking what sort of paint was used. “It is 24 karat gold.” Each glass is meticulously painted by hand, making them all one of a kind.
Hey! This is Pierre. He specializes in the composition of Kelly bags. What is he doing here? Creating the handle. How long does it take? Four and a half hours. Four and a half hours. The handle is composed of five pieces of leather glued and shaped together to create a comfortable dwelling station for your hand. And at last, it seems, the wait list is viable.
At the Collier de Chien station–unfortunately, my iPhone couldn’t capture the majestic process in its glory–a woman with a translator sat carving small bolts. “It takes two months to carve this bracelet,” she told me. “And another two weeks to place the diamonds on the bolts.” A ha, I said, and to the sound of live trumpets summoning the beginning of dinner, I walked downstairs.
Where a large room was carpeted in a signature Hermes print, floral arrangements were set in white leather and the CEO stood up to thank everyone for coming while he explained, “At Hermes, quality takes time.”