Singapore, November 2015 – Little Room of Wanders exhibits the collection of Émile Hermès (the grandson of Hermès’ founder), who started collecting curiosities and antiques in 1893. Today, his collection of objects and books occupy an entire floor of 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré – the flagship and headquarters of Hermès. For the first time, over 100 pieces from this private museum is being exhibited outside Paris.
Literally, a “room” has been erected on the front lawn at the Asian Civilisation Museum in Singapore for this very special collection from October 25 to December 13, 2015.
This exhibition takes us back to the roots of maison Hermès – saddler and leather workshop. Many of the objects are related to horses, equestrian, carriages, hunting and the related lifestyle.
“The Hermès family have always been rambling collectors, fervent souvenir hunters who treasure each little find, equestrian treasures, exquisite examples of craftsmanship from around the world, or travel accessories.” 1
This two-in-one Parasol & Whip is not purely a collectible, but a unique piece commissioned by Empress Eugenie. “For Empress Eugenie, for whom a parasol was an encumbrance when she was driving. Hermès made a “parasolwhip”, prompting Rochefort to remark, “Hermès has given her majesty the lash!” 2 Philippe Dumas’ sketch depicts “Young woman accompanied by her groom leading her cabriolet with a team of two.”3
“It is perhaps true that the collector is a sort of conjurer too, who pulls out of his hat, from his idea-collecting office, ideas that then go on to inspire others.” 4
This trio of dog collars – that inspired the now very sought after Collier de Chien bracelets – was subtly displayed in a low glass cabinet.
Another major source of inspiration for Hermès silk scarves are the walking canes. There is more than meets the eye. One cane doubles as an ink holder and another’s handle is a container for perfume. I guess it is handy to refresh oneself with some eau de toilette after a walk.
“Each object is accompanied by an original drawing from the notebooks of one of Hermès most prolific travellers, Philippe Dumas, grandson to Émile Hermès and well-known for his mischievous curiosity.” 5
Last autumn in Paris, I bought a set of Philippe Dumas’ sketchbooks, which are reproductions of the original notebooks seen here at the exhibition. I found them fascinating, and his drawings were whimsical, yet a detailed study of each object. It was a real treat to see the originals here.
“This year’s theme, “Flaneur Forever”, inspired the house to invite the visitor to begin their journey of discovery of Hermès leather from a little distance…To enjoy a delicious moment of Parisian indulgence in what inspires the house, and then to breathe a little air, to take to the water, and subsequently to enter the world of Leather Forever.” 6
Notes 1-6 : Excerpts from Little Room of Wanders exhibition
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.