photo: Martin Faltejsek
- Editor-in-chief of Fashionbook.cz and Czech Press Photo Award winner Martin Faltejsek explored the secret museum of Hermés Foundation.
What does true luxury mean to you? A handbag with a logo, an expensive perfume or pumps with red soles? For me, it is time. And also the opportunity to visit a place that is often hidden from the usual visitor.
Together with photographer Martin Faltejsek, it is to such a place that we rush to one cold morning. We pass the queue that is standing in front of the Hermès boutique, and although I have often complained of Czech “peepers” who brazenly gape at you, this time I was in the role of such a person. I scan the beautiful fabrics and dangerous-looking heels, the folds of all the outfits, which mostly the Asian female tourists are wearing. They are waiting to be the first ones in the store and they do not mind, while Martin and I pass them through a side entrance.
We walk up over this street – literally as well as figuratively; we make our way to a time machine. In a short moment our visual impressions will be saturated to the very brim, since we find ourselves in the private museum of Emile Hermès.
Access to the private collection of a family, which runs one of the oldest fashion houses in the world, is only granted based on a personal invitation. In earlier years, it was the office of a man who, over his 48 year career (1902-1950) helped Hermès to reach its fashion apex. In addition to be a visionary, Emile Hermès was also an intense collector.
Being able to determine trends in advance, but remaining true to tradition is one part of the brand’s DNA. “What do you think this was for?” Ménéhould de Bazelaire, Director of Hermès Cultural Heritage, asks us.
My glance jumps from a giant studded bracelet to Ménéhould, who tells me that she has been working here for 30 years. She too perfectly embodies the company she works for. In her timeless outfit, she could become the model for one of the resident engravings as well as the object of a street style photographer.
The studded bracelet turns out to be a dog collar from 1949 which then served the designer Jean-Paul Gaultier for him to create the legendary bracelet Collier De Chien.
When we browse through a medieval book on how to care for horses, I recall some Hermès scarf motifs. “Yes, our collection is primarily for our designers, so they can come here, sense the historical objects, and carry them over into the present. It’s good inspiration, don’t you think?” Ménehould says, smiling.
I nod and my mind drifts from the objects, some of which are so historically significant that they are under the protection of the French government, to memories of my childhood. I grew up in a home where my father was a passionate antiques collector; from a very young age, I was always surrounded by mysterious objects that seemed to be able to get angry if touched.
Once I started working as a fashion editor, my visual sentiment has always subconsciously returned to antiques.
When you know history, you are able to see the present and future in a harmonious context. You understand that time, the possibility of reflection as well as contact with historical pieces can refine creativity and help a fashion house to truly extend across cultures.
The much sought-after handbags that everybody knows now seem irrelevant because there is so much to discover here.
Our time is up; on our way out, we look through the guestbook on Emile Hermès desk. We recognise the signatures of a number of politicians, nobility, young Catherine Deneuve and Kanye West. As we leave, I think to myself: encountering and connecting different worlds is an inheritance, which will survive.