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Hermès has been the handbag label of choice for some of the world’s most glamorous women in history, from Victoria Beckham to Grace Kelly.
And now as the French fashion house celebrates its 175th birthday, its design secrets have been unveiled for the first time.
A series of photographs taken inside the famous Paris workshops showcase the craftsmanship required to create one of its bags, some of which cost in excess of £10,000.
A world away from its shiny, minimalist boutiques the studio space, located in Pantin on the outskirts of Paris, is littered with scraps of leather, cotton reels and scrawled design papers.
While taking the images, 24-year-old blogger Shini Park of Park & Cube from London discovered that it can take workers up to 48 hours to hand-stitch a Birkin, one of the brands most sought-after models.
But she was more eager to watch the production of the Hermes Constance - a miniature style of bag which made its debut in 1959 and has since remained popular with its bold, iconic ‘H’ closure.
The Hermès Birkin, one of the brands most sought-after models, can take up to 48 hours to create
She said: ‘I must confess, in most part I was sneaking around in the far corner where the Constance bags were being made and heard only about half the tour.’
Currently the workshops aren’t open to the public, but to celebrate its 175 year history Hermès is running a Leather Forever exhibition, which explores the fascination with crafting designer objects from leather.
Held in the Royal Academy of Art’s sister space, 6 Burlington Gardens, London it will enable fans of the brand to get up close and personal with some of the most stylish bags in the world.
A number of unique designs will also go on display, including a satyr-winged saddle bag, a one-off made in 2001 for a Japanese rock band.
Shini added: ‘Hermès clearly proves that it takes the talented, adept hands of artisans and a brand ethos that embraces quality to make a great bag.
Work in process: Some satchels in the signature Hermès orange hand on a rail while cotton reels and hammer lay nearby
‘Granted, a bag that costs a lot of months in a London flat and throw in a few kebabs while we’re calculating, but now I’m convinced it really is worth it.
‘The ‘secret’ of Hermès, is not in a mystery beeswax or a particular stitching machine, but the magic of attention and care by skilled hands, not to mention the history of the brand’s relationship with leather.
‘It’s undeniably a perfect strategy on Hermès‘ part to highlight – not hide – this craftsmanship aspect and invite certain people to experience what might be considered as secret lair to other brands that like to keep everything under lock and key.’
Hermès was established in 1837 by Thiery Hermes, originally making harnesses and saddles for horses.
Today it specialises in leather, lifestyle accessories, perfumery and ready-to-wear and last year its profits rose 41 per cent to £495 million.
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