Hermès Artisans in Rome: Behind the Scenes

For Hermès and luxury goods lovers, this exhibition is a dream.

Ever wondered what’s behind a €10K+ Birkin bag? Eleven Hermès artisans from Paris have come together under the one roof (1000m2 in Ara Pacis) to share their experience and talents with visitors to the traveling exhibition “Hermès. Dietro le quinte”, (Behind the Scenes) open from 8-16 March. Visitors can see first-hand the artists’ passion and commitment come alive as they work on many Hermès’ iconic pieces, not just the Birkins and Kellys but also saddlery, jewelry and watches, porcelain, scarves, ties and gloves! There is also a virtual reality film which can only be seen by wearing goggles. The film gives a behind the scenes look at the Saint Louis master crystal artisans which Hermès acquired in 1989, but was founded in 1586.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see up close the design standards and production excellence for which the brand is renowned globally.  And even more valuable is the chance to interact and ask questions of the artisans behind the products which may take their place on the catwalk or arrive in boutiques around the world. Many pieces are pre-ordered and sold before they even hit the showroom floor.

Lastly, several conferences will be held within the exhibition such as one about their famous carré (scarves) on March 14th. Perhaps the artisans will reveal some of their secrets!

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The saddler starts and finishes the process but five people are involved in the lengthy project which begins with an order, search for the perfect leathers and then it is made to measure – first for the horse and then for the rider.

The glove cutter began when he was 14 and over the past 54 years (22 for Hermès) he has become a master of his trade. Of the 12 to 20 operations to finalize a pair of Hermès gloves, this artisan spends 30 minutes just for the cutting of the leather. Once he has the perfect piece of leather, he signs and numbers (for the size) the back of the leather and then it moves on to the next artisan.

Porcelain painter. If a piece is completely hand-painted, it will be stamped on leather on the reverse of the porcelain. The painting of this leopard design plate will take at least 40 hours of a two week period for the complete plate. Hence, there are various pieces being completed in parallel, perhaps two plates a month plus other small pieces.

Since 1937, Hermès’ famous silk carré (scarf) has been seen as a symbol of elegance and luxury. 20 new (ten for spring/summer and ten for fall/winter) scarf designs are proposed by Hermès each year. Then ten color variations are developed for each design. Hermès boutiques around the world decide the quantity of each color and design they will offer their clients. And based on all those orders, Hermes goes into production!

40 to 60 minutes are required for the roulotteuse (seamstress) just to finish the border on a scarf, in which there are no knots!

Till March 16th

Ara Pacis Museum

Lungotevere in Augusta

Tuesday – Sunday from 12pm – 8pm (closed on Monday)

Free entry


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