Hermès 'petit h' Pop-Up Store Opens In London

It's not often the term 'recycled' can be associated with 'luxury'. French fashion brand Hermès is set to change this, with the arrival of up-cycled line Petit h. Instigated in 2010 by Pascale Mussard, great-great-great-granddaughter of Hermès founder Thierry Hermès, Petit h (pronounced 'ash' in true French style) gathers up the rejects and off-cuts not suitable to be sold in an Hermès boutique and creates, well, anything you could imagine from them. Opening last month, and running only until 7th December, a Petit h pop-up exhibition come store has opened in Hermès' Bond Street London branch, displaying the labour of love that went into this feat of creative recycling.

 

 

Coming from a generation taught the sanctity of postwar thriftiness, founder Mussaud was taught to respect and cherish the materials and craftsmen at hand while working in the, then-small, Hermès workshops. Thrifty phrases like 'make do and mend' and 'waste not, want not' were more than familiar with Mussaud, as she grew up inventing recipes out of leftovers, taking part in school plays wearing off cut-leather costumes and wrapping up Christmas presents out of materials she found, despite being English in origin. As she worked her through her roles at Hermès, Mussaud squirrelled away scraps of different fabrics into a secret room, ready to be used again for any purpose she could imagine.

 

 

It's from this thriftiness that Petit h was born. Initially setting up the line proved to be something of a challenge.  The question 'Why?' was on the lips of many employees in the company, but Mussaud strove to prove that Petit h was not a vanity project, but an atelier in its own right that was part of the Hermès world. The six members that made up Mussaud's design team were asked to act like treasure hunters, to find best side of material otherwise deemed useless. Other than the rule that any item produced must be functional, Mussaud placed no restrictions on her team. 'We are not an art gallery', she asserts, 'I invite designers and artists into the Petit h workshops, where all the different materials rejected by Hermès are gathered like acorns. These collaborators have free rein to explore and create. Rebirth and up-cycling is the underlying approach. I love to recreate, reinvent and re-enchant'.

 

 

There's no doubt that Petit h is a very special brand. Where else would one find a Birkin bag recommissioned with felt sides into a brand new Hermès bag hybrid, or Saint Louis crystal vases turned into lampshades? In the eyes of Hermès, Petit h products are not 'damaged goods', but repurposed and reimagined to new perfection. With the London store now open, Petit h has brought a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the shores of England. With the store itself designed by artist Faye Toogood and an exclusive handpicked selection of artisans chosen to produce unique items for display and sale, this is definitely not one to miss.

 

Victoria Farley

Brighton Fashion Week Blogger

 

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