Friday, September 09, 2011

Hermès Festival des Métiers in Singapore

When my friend Naomi told me a few days ago that there was an Hermès exhibit in Paragon, I thought they just had a couple of bags and maybe photos on display.  Since I cannot in my life imagine spending thousands of dollars on a bag, or a small fortune on a small bauble, I had no sense of urgency to see it.

Funnily, it was a friend on vacation, Ingrid, who told me it was a must see.

"Hermès flew in artisans to Singapore and you can talk to them. You have to go!", Ingrid said.

Ok, that's an experience! I may not want to spend on a bag, but it might be interesting to know why those darn things cost so much. So I went, and apparently I was lucky. It was the last day of the exhibit in Singapore, the first Asian stop after a tour of Europe and the US. 

I saw how a tie was made from beginning to end...

I watched an artist create the artwork that would become the design of a scarf. And managed to see the silkscreen machine used for printing the scarves and ties, no demonstration though...
There was an artisan hand painting fine china and porcelain...

A watchmaker, a stone setter, a leather craftswoman, and a saddle maker were all happy to answer all questions (via interpreter). The highlight of the show though was the young artisan stitching this Jypsiere...
As I left the exhibit, I understood why Hermès spent serious marketing dollars on this traveling crafts festival, granted that print ads and sponsorships should come out cheaper, with less logistics to worry about. 

Seeing each item made by hand, done with much skill and expertise, by passionate craftsmen, gives each item soul. Like there is a face to a product and not just some machine, or half-starved child behind it. If I had a spare $2000 tucked away somewhere, I would have walked across Hermès  in Ngee Ann City to buy a wallet right there and then.

The succeeding posts will show the craftsmen at work, with bits of trivia I've picked up by talking to them, thrown in. Luxe lover or not, I think there is something to be appreciated here.

A devotion to quality by those who take pride in making them. And an appreciation for timeless craftsmanship, by those who invest in them.

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