The legacy of Hermès stands on a commitment to style, quality, and dedication—whether in regard to its boutiques, collections, technological integrations, or innovations. In September 2000, to celebrate over 160 years in existence, Hermès opened its first maison in New York on Madison Avenue. The location, discovered by President & Chief Executive Officer of Hermès of Paris, Robert Chavez, immediately resonated with Hermès’ energy. A decade later in February 2010, Hermés opened another boutique on Madison Avenue, directly across the street, and dedicated entirely to Men’s Universe.
“When you walk into this building, you’re pleasantly surprised at the proportions,” said Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Artistic Director for Hermès and sixth generation family member. “The space draws you in right away, thanks to the human scale. It has lovely high ceilings, creating magnificent vertical volumes, while on the other side of Madison, the architecture of the Hermès flagship store is more horizontal.”
Neighboring Hermès’ flagship at 691 Madison Avenue, the men’s boutique at 690 Madison Avenue has brought a few unexpected surprises. The 2,450-square-foot store, boasting red brick similar to that of the classic “Rouge H,” offers four vast floors. On the first level, men can enjoy an arrangement of shirts and ties, while the second floor is reserved for leather, sportswear, knitwear, and watches. On the third level, men can browse suits, jackets, and pants, and on the fourth and final level, guests can enjoy the made-to- measure and special orders departments—a “floor of dreams,” according to Véronique Nichanian, Hermès’ Men’s Artistic Director.
The store’s elegant design was carried out by Parisian architecture agency Rena Dumas Architecture Intèriere (RDAI)— founded by Rena Dumas, wife of former Hermès Chairman Jean-Louis Dumas, and Pierre-Alexis’ mother—with Denis Montel as the Managing and Artistic Director. Since Montel’s joining RDAI in 1999, he has been in charge of artistic direction for all of Hermès’ worldwide locations, appropriately including this one too. The uncluttered space features walls and ceilings paneled in cherry wood, a large mezzanine stretching 20 feet tall, and other similar details from the original Hermès store at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris.
In addition, Hermès’ series “Vitrine D’Artiste”—an ongoing platform of artist commissions for temporary window designs— has since featured a few outstanding artists to participate. Last year, sticking by Hermès’ annual theme of “Flâneur Forever” for 2015, Brooklyn-based artist Edward Granger used a variety of geometric shapes in a range of colors to create an illusion of vibrations and animated movements. On view from June 11 until the end of August last year, it captured the artisanal craftsmanship of Hermès’ objects. “I view this as being analogous to the constant pulsing energy and vibrant electricity of New York City life, the rhythmic beat of a person’s heart, or harmonics,” said Granger on his approach to the window designs.
Last November, Danish artist Nina Saunders presented “Greta’s Party,” showcasing furniture upholstered with Hermès fabrics, transformed to appear as if each were dancing in celebration. On view until early this year, the installation made use of Hermès’ Squeeze print—created by Richard Gorman for fall/winter 2015—and other iconic prints, such as the H Link graphic prints, and natural prints from the late artist Robert Dallet.
Until Hermès’ new windows appear from the chosen “Nature at Full Gallop” theme for 2016, we can catch acclaimed director and artist Robert Wilson’s “Here Elsewhere” installation at Cedar Lake in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood from May 10-12. The original installation consists of live performers and video portraits that will interact with objects from the Hermès Maison Universe. Instead of creating a “dream house,” Wilson creates “a dream of a house.” Wilson’s “Here Elsewhere” balances between materiality and timelessness, rigor and fantasy, much like the historic maison.