Hermes brought its artistic exhibition, Festival des Metiers (Festival of Crafts) to Toronto and I attended its opening the other evening. Held at the Design Exchange, the exhibit provides an insightful look at what goes on behind the scenes in making the renowned Hermes goods. I got to see firsthand the amazing precision, detail and work of the craftsmanship that has defined Hermes as having an unprecedented level of quality in their products.
Festival des Metiers is an ongoing exhibit that travels around the world and features various artisans from France, each with their own intimate workstations where they demonstrate and explain how particular products are made. Seeing them work their magic was astounding to say the least. Everything is made by hand using traditional techniques and methods that have been used for years. I love how committed they are to their craft and their passion is evident.
Artisans include a leather maker constructing the iconic Kelly bag, a saddler, glove maker, tie maker, silk printer, watchmaker, porcelain painter, and gem setter. One of the best parts of the exhibit is that you can engage with and talk directly to the craftspeople (so you can find out all their little secrets of course). Here are some things I learned:
- Crocodile bags are made inside out.
- The saddle was Hermes’ first craft. It takes about 25 hours to make one.
- There are around 60 glove makers, each with a specific job. A hydraulic press is used to cut the gloves, then it is stitched, and a silk or cashmere lining is put inside. A specialized iron is then used to smooth the leather.
- Silk printers dye their colours from darkest to lightest, smallest to biggest motifs. It takes approximately two years to produce one scarf, from the initial design stage to the finished product. To penetrate the colour, a dry steam is used to set the dye, and then the scarf is washed to take out the gum.
- All watches are Swiss made, and the leather is imported from Paris.
- They make the most adorable mini sample designs that look like baby clothes. I wonder if I could squeeze into one of them.