"This exhibition is the first in a series of international touring shows that is meant to convey the Hermès heritage to the public," say Bruno Gaudichon, designer of the luxury brand's Harnessing the Roots installation at Hermès Beverly Hills, which opens March 31 and runs through April 7.
Founded by Thierry Hermès in 1837 as a harness-maker and saddler, Hermès evolved from a manufacturer of functional objects into an ultra-chic purveyor of leather goods, silk scarves, fine jewelry, watches and other fashion accoutrements. "I wanted to show pieces from across different eras to allow visitors to see the internal connection that has always existed within Hermès pieces as well as the continuation of the house's historical legacy," says Gaudichon, who has curated exhibits on Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas and Camille Claudel.
The items in the exhibition were drawn from three different sources: the Emile Hermès collection housed at the Hermès flagship on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris; the Hermès Conservatory of Creations; and Hermès's contemporary fashion, lifestyle and accessories collections. Gaudichon worked with scenographer Laurence Fontaine to arrange the objects in a thematic narrative. The five themes are Brides de Gala; the Horse and Its Tack; the Saddle; Buckled Up; and Ties and Straps. These objects are complemented by a 1962 film in which Robert Dumas, heir and director of Hermès from 1951 to 1978, explains the art of saddle making.
"In exhibitions that reflect history and culture, people often fall for the trap of being caught in nostalgia," Gaudichon observes. "While curating this exhibition, we chose not to arrange pieces in chronological order but rather to attempt to create a dialogue between pieces, letting the audience experience the connections on their own."
Harnessing the Roots, Hermès Beverly Hills