That Hermes, with its equestrian heritage dating back 178 years, makes leather saddles is well known. But a Pegasus-inspired saddle fashioned from leathers in vibrant shades, complete with wings inspired by the mythical stallion? That’s the stuff of fairy tales – and of the Hermes special-orders workshop in Paris.
This design is one of more than 200 whimsical items on show at Leather Forever, an Hermes travelling exhibition on a stopover at the Artscience Museum (ASM) at Marina Bay Sands. Across the river, a small showcase entitled Little Room Of Wanders, held at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), serves as an accompaniment to the main exhibition.
On display here are knickknacks – such as 19th-century sleigh bells – from the private collection of third-generation company head Emile Hermes. Usually housed in the by-invitation-only mini museum above Hermes’ Parisian flagship store, these historical curiosities live on today as creative inspiration for the luxury house’s designers. As a nod to Hermes’ Flaneur Forever theme this year, visitors are encouraged to take a bumboat from ACM to ASM as part of their journey of discovery. (Sure, they could walk, but where’s the fun in that?)
Giving the public a glimpse of Hermes’ exclusive heritage pieces and inner workings, both showcases are the latest open exhibitions organised by the brand. They follow the Festival Des Metiers (Festival Of Crafts) held at Paragon in 2011, and The Gift Of Time exhibition held at the Tanjong Pagar railway station in 2012.
Aside from witty archival pieces like a lambskin bag designed to hold an apple, Leather Forever also spotlights the Hermes’ iconic Birkin and Kelly bags, and its long equestrian history. The company’s artisans will also be on site to show how its iconic bags are put together – so visitors might get to see some of the skills that go into the making of pieces like the five unique Kellydoll bags – Kelly bags embellished with smiling “faces” – created in celebration of Singapore’s fifty years of independence.
Leather Forever and Little Room Of Wanders will run from Oct 25 to Dec 13
This leather-covered wheelbarrow was a gift from Edward VIII, Prince of Wales, to his lover, American socialite Wallis Simpson. Informed by Edward that Simpson had “wheelbarrows full of perfumes and gloves”, an Hermes sales assistant recommended a wheelbarrow to keep them all in.