Hermes' Atelier, Behind The Scenes Visit To See The Artisan Work Creating The Kelly Bag
Up Close & Personal With Hermès,
Our Behind The Scenes Visit to the Hermès' Atelier
outside of Paris in the town of Pantin
+please note this is a sponsored post by the Comité Colbert
+stellar photography via Alfredo Piola
+other, not so stellar photography by Tamara Stephenson
She is the "Crowned Jewel" of all handbags, aptly named after Grace Kelly, my favorite is made of black Crocodile, in the perfect size (32cm) with gold hardware. I am a fan of the soft Kelly, but hard or soft, she is the crème de la crème of Hermes bags. Many women dream of this bag, and it is one that can be handed down over generations, a family heirloom. A fine investment indeed. The vintage Kelly goes for big bucks, and after watching a documentary many moons ago about how these bags are made, all by hand over months and from start to finish all by one artisan, I was smitten. The entire Hermès array of products is impressive from the tabletop to the scarves and ties.
My daughter is an avid equestrian and competitor, and we have had our very own love affair with this French company for all the tack offered for horses. My daughter and her friends drool over the Hermès' saddles on display under the billowy white tents at the Hampton Classic horse show in Bridgehampton. As kids they'd settle for the brown Hermes ribbon as bracelets. The kind staff at the tent would gift the girls, and soon a fashion trend developed with throngs of girls donning Hermès ribbons around their wrist. The fascination with the brand has continued, and when Gabriella was fourteen she insisted on her bedroom being painted Hermes orange, so we obliged and swathed the room ceilings and all in a color we custom colored to match the Hermes box. The orange is a perfect backdrop for the cornucopia of photographs of horses and equestrian events she has taken over the years. While she is off riding and competing in college at Cornell University in the varsity equestrian team, her bedroom awaits paying homage to her life-long love of horses.
When I had the opportunity to visit the Hermès Atelier a couple of weeks ago while traveling to Paris with the luxury brand consortium Comité Colbert, I was elated. The chance to see the makings of this handbag up close, and to hear from the Hermes family first-hand about their company, is a rare opportunity. See my Hermès video meeting with the family before out tour, and hearing how they moved from saddle makers to scarf, tie, tabletop and handbag makers. We walked the floor of the atelier and I was immediately impressed with the fastidious detailing in the hand work. Each craftsman took great pride in showing us how they create the bags. We saw how the soft Kelly bag is sewn by hand inside out, then when finished turned slowly right side with a gentle touch. We noticed that much of each bag is hand hammered, flattened, worked, reworked, with much of the bag kept covered for protection. None of this could be done in this way by a machine. It is fascinating to see the incredible love that goes into each and every bag, and our guide noted that if there is one simple mistake on the finished bag, it never makes it to a store. There is a high standard for quality that they adhere to every day. Seeing it first-hand, I'm reminded of this almost lost art form, but here in this studio at Hermès it is being kept alive every day.
A little history about Hermès:
Originally Saddle Makers, the Hermès family quickly adapted their brand at the turn of the century when it became evident that cars were replacing horses. However, the family-owned company kept their saddle stitch when designing handbags, a special way of binding and stitching the leather and by using two needles for stitching in order for the bag to wear well over time, since it worked well in saddles which needed to withstand through high performance horsemanship. This has become Hermes signature style and this iconic brand has blossomed, making handbags and much more. They smartly named some their bags after iconic figures of that time frame- The Kelly (Grace Kelly), The Birkin (Jane Birkin).
Today, a Kelly costs the price of some cars, so this is not a small investment in the least bit. But, judging from the care and work and talent involved, I am more than ever convinced it is worth every penny, and my daughter will certainly agree if she inherits a Kelly bag. Beginning today, I'm filling my Piggy Bank with change daily in the hopes that one day I too may make this worthwhile investment. Check out the Hermès bag video from the President of Hermès about the
makings of the bags.
Please check out other stories written here on
Nest by Tamara about Hermes over the years.
Nest by Tamara blog: The Evelyn Bag
Net by Tamara blog: Hermès and fabric
Dan's Papers: Hermes, The Hampton Classic
Hampton Classic Horse show 2010
Following our tour, Hermes staff gifted us each a beautiful scarf. I love my Ciels Byzantine scarf in stunning shades of orange, rouge and bordeaux.
Thank you Hermes!