Yesterday I was invited to the private screening of Hermès’ new film “Les mains d’Hermès”, or “Hearts and Crafts” in the English version. I did not know what to expect other than the usual classy hosting which was reason enough, so there I went.
First of all I have to say it is a real film, a documentary. Not a piece of advertising. And it impressed me beyond any expectation. So much that I had to write about it. Why, you ask?
The film pictures that actual people working the different products Hermès is well known for: the saddles, the printed silk scarves – “les carrés”, the silver jewelry, the crystal and, last but definitely not the least, the handbags. And what you see and hear is the craft, the care and the love these people put into what they do. The older ones being there for decades, the younger ones so incredibly motivated to be part of that reality. And how the expertise is shared and perpetuated from one to the others, always in search of perfection.
Oh, it’s a film, you say! That is true, I am not naïf. It is a film written and produced for the company that is one of the mastheads of the “luxury industry” in the modern days. But we are getting to my point here: this company could have done any film! They chose to do this one and that reveals brilliant strategic thinking and also great courage and humanity.
We all know Europe is going through a very tough economic crisis. France not being the heart of the tornado, is also not immune to its consequences. In this context, it becomes difficult to talk about “luxury” without feeling a bit silly. However, behind this marketing term that was so useful over the past 25 years, creating a dream umbrella that allowed very powerful economic groups to grow worldwide, there is a real world.
It is reality that Hermès shows us, its true value and true luxury: the precious materials, the painstaking work behind each and every object, the crafts that are cherished and passed on to the next generation AND the immense value those jobs hold for those people. Regardless of age, nationality, language skills, physical appearance or disabilities – no prejudice other than “how passionate can you be to work within the strictest quality standards” to create beautiful items that will travel the world.
The thousands of working hours, the care and even love going into making each Hermès piece makes them rare and valuable, like the most beautiful piece of diamond jewelry. That is the real luxury, to carry something that was made by those real people, living somewhere so close to us, putting in every day of their working lives to learn more, to be more and more skilled, to be even more perfect.
“Les mains d’Hermès” is a timely tribute to the women and men who excel at their crafts.
It touched me.