Verrou Elan Clutch
Hermès may have made its name in leather, but what keeps fans enthralled is its ingenious use of unexpected elements, a legacy of Robert Dumas. The Maison's former chairman was a known DIY enthusiast who would elevate functionality with engineering devices like pulleys, valves and push buttons — as illustrated in this calfskin clutch that uses an authentic silver door bolt (or “verrou” in French) as a closure. Conceptualised back in 1938, the bag was later found at a Paris flea market by Andy Warhol, who gifted it to his muse, artist-actress Isabelle Dufresne (also known as Ultra-Violet). Upon his death, Dufresne returned it to the house archives. What you see in the exhibition is an adaptation of the original bag, which was created 10 years later with a silver and palladium bolt.
This was a special order from M Rampazzi, an Italian whose love for Hermès is said to rival his love of apples. Created in 2002, this holder is crafted in the precise form of an apple, sans visible stitching and with an inner shell made by legendary silversmith Puiforcat in palladium. As with every Hermès product, there are many practical details, including a small knife with a horn handle that hangs on the strap like a leaf. Naturally, the case also comes dressed in Granny Smith green lambskin.
Audace Winged Saddle
This is the saddle Pegasus would carry if the mythical horse came to life. Fashioned out of orange and red Gulliver calfskins, yellow lambskin, red and yellow Porosus crocodile skins and with gold-plated brass, this imaginative creation was accomplished at the Hermès Sellerie workshops for the Colbert Committee exhibition in China. It is an exuberant testimony to how the illustrious Special Orders Workshop (at 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris), can make your desires, however wild they may be, come true.
For this Singapore stop, Hermès has created five unique bags in honour of the country's 50 years of independence, one to symbolise each decade. Originally conceived in 1999 by Jean-Louis Dumas (then head of the Maison), the Kellydoll is a whimsical miniature of Hermès' iconic Kelly. Saddle-leatherworkers and silversmiths added playful touches such as twinkling eyes, a cheery grin and outstretched arms, while preserving the proportions of the Kelly and faithfully reproducing every detail. Inspired by Singapore's lush gardens, these special editions are rendered in the most precious skins, with some topped with delicate embroidery.
Leather Forever, along with the accompanying prelude exhibition Little Room of Wanders (at the ACM Green), runs from October 25 to December 13. Admission is free.