From the iconic Hermès flagship building on the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré to its new Left Bank store on the rue de Sèvres is more than a geographical hop across the Seine. The striking transformation of the Piscine Lutetia, a 1935 landmark Art Deco swimming pool, into the first Hermès concept store signals a brand new universe for the luxury brand, stamped with all the firm’s originality and panache. It’s “the expression of Hermès today”, says creative director Pierre-Alexis Dumas, who is also a member of the Hermès family.
From the entrance level, a grand mosaic staircase descends to the main floor. Here, in a sky-lighted atrium, Denis Montel of RDAI—the architecture firm founded by Dumas’s late mother Rena—has filled the lower-level former pool space with swooping, 30-foot-tall, teepee-shaped openwork huts of woven pale ashwood.
Inside these warm wooden structures, floors of pale gray, white gold, green and silver mosaics evoke shimmering water, while those renowned Hermès luxury wares—from accessories and ready-to-wear to scarves and saddles—splash the neutral environment with color.
In a significant departure from the flagship store’s format, here the home decor collections occupy fully one third of the 15,800-square-foot space—not only porcelain, crystal, flatware and furniture but also new ventures into wallpaper, furnishing fabrics and silk carpets. The most intriguing addition is a revival of the company’s 1920s and 1930s collaboration with Art Deco legend Jean-Michel Frank, in an exclusive series of his designs including a dressing table sheathed in ivory kid parchment; his Comfortable cubist chairs and sofas in a range of leathers and fabrics; a dining table available in oak or rosewood; and coffee tables in leather, parchment, shagreen or sun-pattern straw marquetry.
Conceived to attract the denizens of the surrounding Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood, the store’s eclectic concept is evident right from the street-side display window—for the opening it blossomed with white lilacs from florist Baptiste Pitou’s selection of haute blooms just inside the store’s entrance. There’s a bookshop filled with international volumes on art, architecture, photography, biography and, bien sûr, the horse and all things equine. The tea salon—called Le Plongeoir (Diving Board)—features such snacks as Charolais beef carpaccio with black truffles and a selection of rare teas from the Palais des Thés. It’s all très Hermès.
17 rue de Sèvres, 6th, 01.42.22.80.83. website
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of France Today.
Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *