6 Burlington Gardens is the perfect destination right now; first have a super healthy feast at 42RAW, the raw food restaurant that’s occupying the ground floor and the exterior steps of this beautiful building. Then take in the amazing Leather Forever, a celebration of all things Hermès that is on till the 27th May.

Now in its 175th year, this fashion institution with its amazing leather wares and clothing and characteristic burnt orange coloured carrier bags and glorious boxes is exhibiting its stunning past and present at the Royal Academy of Arts. Best of all, the exhibition is free and open every day.

Craftspeople from the Hermès ateliers in Paris – who train for years to be able to replicate the attention to detail the brand has maintained since its beginning in 1837 – are on-site, making bags while you watch, happily answering questions and showing what the tools do. There’s a huge display of the various skins used in the production of Hermès leather wares, which you can touch. As you can imagine, the olfactory experience alone is amazing.

For most of us, this is the closest we’ll get to a Hermès bag and seeing them up close, you realise why these bags command such respect and desire.

The exhibition is very considered; you start off admiring the skins, then move on to the room where two Hermès craftspeople are making the renowned bags. Then a display of vintage Hermès bags; do take the time to admire the detailing and exquisite stitching, the patina of the leather and incredible inventiveness in size and shapes.

There’s a wonderful room called The Spirit of the Nomad, full of sand dyed the perfect Hermès orange and with a desert-luxe feel. However, my favourite room had to be the corral, this time the sand is the colour of vanilla or bleached bone… I couldn’t resist sneaking a pinch! A tribute to this grand house’s past, it is full of horse related ephemera, even a ladies’ sidesaddle. An apt reminder that Hermès was a house of master harness making and later saddles way before the bags that we generally connect with the brand. The exhibition ends with a little theatre showing 4 very unique bags that have been created to be auctioned, with all proceeds being donated to the Royal Academy of Arts. The bags represent England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales respectively.

Hermès Leather Forever
6 Burlington Gardens
London W1S 3ET

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 10 am until 6 pm and on Fridays until 10pm.
The exhibition is free to all visitors.

Words by Anna Bang


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