My favourite videos on Youtube are the ones that show what’s going on behind the scenes. Especially behind the doors of big fashion houses: The ones that show what’s happening in the ateliers, who is involved in the creation of a collection – from the designer down to the seamstresses and all the people in between, like the shoemakers, the pleaters, the embroiderers, etc. I love artisan craftsmanship and looking over the shoulder of skilled people, who do what they love and are extremely good at it. So I was very excited when I heard that Hermès’ ‘Festival des Métiers’ was coming to Vienna. It was already in London, China, Germany etc. and now it also came to Austria.
Basically, it’s Hermès’ craftspeople showing their skills and explaining what they are doing to the audience. There was a saddler, a watchmaker, a screen-printer, a designer (for the patterns on the carrés), a bag-maker, a porcelain painter, a person who made gloves and one who handsewed ties. There even was someone who added velvet flocking onto the famous Hermès neckerchiefs, after they are printed.
The Stallburg provided the perfect backdrop, with the Lipizzans being mildly surprised by all the people not noticing them, but being intrigued by the skills of the craftspeople. Sadly though, not all of them were working while I was there – I would have loved to see the man who added the flocking in action, but he took break. The screenprinter was absent as well, but his equipment was set up – those screens! So fine! And no bleeding of the colours, I guess he waits quite a while before he adds the next colour – they were all incredibly vibrant and saturated, very pretty.
It was fascinating to see the faces behind the final products, the hands that touch them, make them, turn a piece of leather into a sturdy bag or a smooth glove. I understand now why I would have to pay ca. 150€ to buy a silk tie. The quality is extremely high and so much care, knowledge and a long tradition goes into each piece. Experiencing this ‘behind the scenes’ first hand was truly inspiring.