By Elizabeth Patterson
Famed bag brand Hermès is expanding past their sartorial roots and moving into the art scene. The brand is taking their popular Wanderland exhibit to Paris. The exhibit is themed around the brand’s 2015 theme of the act of flânerie, or the casual, leisurely act of sauntering about with no destination.
The relaxed theme can hardly be said to expand to the exhibit itself, which is more “Wonder” than “Wander”. The 11-room gallery features a walk-through store arcade fronted with Hermès artifacts as well as whimsical pieces like vintage canes with various different attributes (one is made for a dandy, with a suit brush attached), a kiosk featuring a rainbow of floating handbags, a graffiti room, and a lost objects café reminiscent of Harry Potter. A shop-front façade of an elephant in a china store amuses, while a floor featuring people walking upside down calls for closer scrutiny. A room with windows lopsided on the walls as well as on the floor and an umbrella leaning on a bench in what appears to be nothing other than a puddle of sky are downright Magritte-like. Magical teacups, upside down street lamps and a disco-ball illuminated room projecting a French film on the starry walls are also part of the dreamlike exhibit. The surrealism of the display allows for an abandonment of the regular. The whole scene carries a playful and curious air that Lewis Carroll would be proud of – or perhaps C.S. Lewis, considering that one room requires entrance through a wardrobe. More than 4000 pieces from the Hermès archive are on display in some fanciful form or another, like several of the houses famed bags and scarves, and their home wares as well.
Even the brand itself can successfully take on the title of flaneur with this exhibit – after Paris, which is its second stop from its original London start, it will also be traveling to Italy and China.
Hermès Wanderland will be on view on the banks of the Seine in Paris from Sept 18 to October 5. Jump down the rabbit hole – we promise it’s worth it.