Young Ladies About Town

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A stroll through handbag history

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
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on Tuesday, 08 May 2012

Other than a cheeky gin and tonic, handbags are another of my vices. There is nothing quite like a new handbag to make these miserable days of late seem a lot brighter - and stylish!

So you can imagine my excitement at the opening of an exhibition by Hermès celebrating its 175th year!


Leather Forever takes you on a tour of handbags and other beautiful leather items created since Hermès was founded in 1837. Leather was the first material tamed by Hermès and since then six generations of artisans and craftsmen have explored new techniques and markets, whilst staying true to the company's routes.

The exhibition starts by showing the raw materials used to create an Hermès item. The smell of quality leather is strong as you walk through this first section of the exhibition, and there are a whole range of items on display. In addition to modern items that can be found in stores today, there are pieces from the past, such as a beautiful wheelbarrow commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for his wife Wallis Simpson.


There are also Hermès craftsmen from the Paris workshops demonstrating the art of leather working so you can see first-hand the work, love and skill that goes into the creation of a Hermès product.

The dim lighting and relaxing music ensure a poetic journey through Hermès' carefully crafted history. 'The Spirit of the Nomad' and 'The Horse, the First Client' rooms even have sand on the floor which, combined with the strong smell of leather, transport you to a very different world to the smart show rooms of Burlington Gardens! It is incredibly atmospheric.


The exhibition finishes with 'Star Bags'. Hermès has created four unique, one-of-a-kind handbags to mark the opening of the exhibition in London. The bags are modelled on the Passe-Guide style handbag which represent England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The auction is to be held online by Christie's from May 14 until May 31, and profits will be donated to the Royal Academy of Arts.

For more information on Leather Forever visit:

For more information on Christie's auction visit:

Words by Melonie Clarke.

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