From the saddles of Russian czars to the lush 36-inch silk scarves adored by Jacqueline Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II, the House of Hermès (arguably) has defined the luxury and leather goods market since 1837. Now, the Hermès atelier comes to Washington to showcase the handiwork and skill applied to every precious stitch in a crocodile “Birkin” bag.
Tomorrow, Hermès brings its week-long Festival des Métiers, or Festival of Crafts, to the Beltway. Called a “Rendezvous with Hermès Craftsman,” the exhibition features demonstrations--sketches of prints for silk scarves, leatherwork for saddles and handbags--by artisans and craftsmen of the Hermès workshops in Lyon, France.
The Festival des Métiers is Hermès’ first international traveling exhibition to visit the U.S. It stopped in Seattle and Chicago before ending in Washington, and aims to showcase the history and heritage of the House.
“Our theme this year is all about the craftsmanship of Hermès,” said U.S. Hermès CEO Robert Chavez. “It was great opportunity to enhance the theme by bringing traveling artisans from Europe.”
Chavez has been praised for expanding the Hermès brand considerably in the U.S., opening stores in Seattle, San Diego and Denver in 2009. Recently, Hermès opened a menswear store on Madison Avenue in New York, and another flagship store will open in June.
“For us here in the U.S., I still see a lot of potential for continued growth,” said Chavez. “I always love to say that even though Hermès is 174 years-old, we’re still a very young company in the U.S. market. There are so many more people who have yet to discover us. So this is a very unique way for them to do so.”
The festival is free and begins Friday, March 25-30, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Hermes, Fairfax Square, 9075 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, Va.; 703-506-4546.