The expansive studio lots in Acton, located in the far west of London, may not immediately evoke thoughts of the Parisian fashion house Hermès. However, yesterday evening (30 November 2023), the W3 address served as the entrance to the brand’s mesmerizing journey along ‘the silky way’ – an extraordinary galaxy of amusements that celebrated one of the house’s most iconic exports, the carré silk scarf, adorned with the distinctive ‘Brides de Gala’ print.
Guided by a trail of landing lights extending from the unassuming entrance – marked with a ‘Silky Way’ sign as a celestial hint – ‘Brides de Galaxy’ (the event’s title) unfolded into an immersive space inspired by various elements of the ‘Brides de Gala’ scarf print. This design, one of Hermès’ most recognizable creations, was crafted by Hugo Grygkar in 1957, featuring bridlery chains and a saddle that harks back to the house’s equestrian heritage and has been reimagined in various forms over the decades.
Upon arrival, libations flowed freely (including Louis Roederer champagne and a vibrant array of cocktails like the ‘Blue Nebula,’ a striking blend of silver tequila, lime juice, and blue curaçao). Delicate platters showcased seaweed tacos filled with beef tartare and Oscietra caviar, sea bass and passion fruit ceviche, or miso aubergine, along with sourdough ‘crackling’ adorned with carrot chutney and oat curd or duck rillettes.
This served as ample rocket fuel to explore Hermès expansive universe, where a vividly colored, sand-covered set – designed by London-based set designer Ibby Njoya, reminiscent of a distant desert landscape with surreal dunes – led to five immersive areas inspired by various aspects of the Hermès carré.
These areas included a sparkling amphitheater for relaxation, the ‘dune bar’ complete with spinning silk parachutes overhead, and the ‘love garden,’ where a tree blossomed with the house’s ‘Love’ scarves. The ‘valley’ provided an opportunity for guests to experiment with the various silks themselves, showcasing the myriad ways these scarves, known to Hermès enthusiasts, can be twisted and knotted.
Special performances featured Hackney-born musician and actor Hope, along with a troupe of dancers showcasing the carré in a contemporary dance performance choreographed by Portuguese ballet dancer Marcelino Sambé.
The central space transformed into an enormous dancefloor, complete with a glimmering disco-ball sky that witnessed guests dancing long into the night.
Hermès silk, one of the house’s most historic métiers, is currently under the direction of Cécile Pesce, the creative director of women’s silk. Crafted meticulously in the Hermès workshops near Lyon, France, the unique designs and patterns of the carré, each created by an artist or designer, undergo hundreds of hours of etching, screen-printing, and hand-stitching by the house’s highly trained artisans. Pesce, responsible for the scarves’ dazzling array of colors, reflected on the process, stating, ‘[The colors] are mixed from memories.
The idea is to reorganize everything; colors are like words to make a sentence,’ echoing her sentiments shared with Roadness during our earlier visit to the Hermès workshops this year. ‘Or how it is to make music: it is natural for me.’