Where does a luxury label that continues to post record sales growth host one of its splashiest events of the year? On Wall Street, of course.
In the shadow of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday night, Hermes presented "All About Women," a spotlight on the craft of the storied French label. Previous incarnations have taken place in Paris and Shanghai -- so why New York this year? "We just felt the timing was right to do something in May right before the Memorial Day holiday, and to create an evening all about theatre, discovery, magic and fun," explained Robert Chavez, president of Hermes of Paris, the label's U.S. arm. "Hermes is uncompromising in terms of quality and craftsmanship, but we also want to do it with that element of magic and surprise, and that's what you're seeing here tonight. All of the products relate to women, but are presented here in a whimsical, fun, yet very committed way."
Chavez co-hosted the evening with Hermes CEO Axel Dumas (a sixth-generation descendent of founder Thierry Hermes); together they welcomed a client-heavy audience of more than 700, including Jodie Foster, Martha Stewart, Glenda Bailey, Anna Wintour and Scout Willis. The night kicked off with an encore presentation of the Hermes fall-winter collection, which debuted in Paris on March 5, thus allowing those who didn't catch its premiere to enjoy an up-close chance to ogle Christophe Lemaire's sumptuous take on the season, seen in some exquisite oversize coats in leather or cashmere, menswear-inspired suits and dresses that artfully employed one of the house's most iconic elements, its scarf prints.
Once Lemaire took his bow, it was off to the carnival downstairs. The "magic and fun" Chavez referred to took on a variety of forms, though each circled back to the Hermes wares women find so lustworthy. A duet of female guitarists performed "songs of silk" in a tent crafted in a kaleidoscope of silk carres, while next door, hula dancers undulated in Hermes swimwear. Across from dancing girls executing their routines in the house's sandals -- with each carrying a different handbag -- guests were served Champagne at the Bangle Bar from women whose faces were obscured by the circular structure so you could more easily notice the enamel bracelets each wore from wrist to elbow. And near a display of equestrian-themed leather goods, Stewart gamely took part in the fun by having her photo taken on a carousel horse.
Following these and other temptations, it was back upstairs, where a nightclub had replaced the runway. Wintour and Bailey had ducked out by then, but Chavez was last seen on the dance floor, dancing with a carefree spirit to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walkin'." And why not? Hermes has likely sold an abundance of those as well.
RIDE ON: Martha Stewart on a horse.