The Hermes- organised exhibition’s theme is “flanerie” — the elegant French term for strolling or wandering without purpose. ”“Flânerie, that wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering, is second nature to Hermès, one could even say our most profound nature”, says Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the Hermes artistic director on the Saatchi Gallery website.
It continues: “Quintessentially Parisian, flânerie is about revelling in the unexpected. ‘The journey through Wanderland draws its coherence from two intrinsic elements of la flânerie: dreaming and freedom of spirit, explains Bruno Gaudichon, curator of La Piscine-Musée d’Art et d’Industrie in Roubaix, who was commissioned to create the exhibition.”
Eleven rooms at the Saatchi Gallery in Sloane Square have been sequestered by the Parisian set designer and high-end furniture designer Hubert le Gall enticing visitors into a highfalutin window shopping without having to board the Eurostar for the two and half hour train trip to Paris to experience the real thing.
The website gushes: (It) plunge visitors, the flâneurs themselves, into a dream world of joy and fantasy, with a Paris-inspired landscape as its backdrop. The eleven rooms present a series of installations in various media, created by a diverse selection of artists. From the Parisian square, to the covered passage, or a cafe of forgotten objects this veritable extended cabinet of curiosities will delight and intrigue visitors, inviting each of them to open their eyes, free their minds and be enveloped by the colour, sounds and images that surround them”.
A number of artists working in various media including video artists Romain Laurent, Nicolas Tourte, Magali Desbazeille and Siegfried Canto have created highly theatrical rooms for the exhibition. Among the exhibits are a 19th century Parisian shopping arcade while one room is filled with “special edition” handbags including the famous Hermes Birkin Bag which normally sells for about $30,000 — but at Saatchi is just for admiring.
But Dumas argues that this is a show for everyone. He told The Telegraph: ”It’s not about marketing the brand, it’s more about conveying who we are, something that even children can enjoy, you just need a fresh eye to look at it”.