INNOVATION IN THE MAKING

When the lockdown in China ended and stores reopened, to which store did luxury customers flock? Hermès.A single store in Guangzhou made revenue headlines, and here in the Middle East, a recently launched concierge service is busy bringing bags, accessories, and ready-to-wear directly to the doors of its quarantined customers. Earlier in the year, the Maison celebrated its theme of 2020 – Innovation in the Making – with a New York extravaganza, bringing together some of the world’s greatest innovators for a University-styled day, and naturally, a wondrously fun night.

THE INSPIRATION

A dizzying whirlwind of thinkers, fashion, and fun, guests flew into New York City from all over the world, greeted and transferred to fabulous hotels followed by dinner at the toney Upper East Side’s Flora Bar, the upscale seafood restaurant housed in the Brutalist Met Breuer building. Whisked back to bed, the following day guests were picked up in iconic yellow school buses and brought, via ferry, to Governors Island for a day of talks and discussions with some of the world’s best thinkers. Afterwards, following some downtime back at the hotel, guests were brought to a secret location for an immersive experiential afterparty full of surprises and delights.

THE ENTERTAINMENT

As guests arrived on the island, a marching band struck up outside, just like the brass bands at college sporting events. These talented men and women of the Wagner College Seahawk Marching Band represent the Athletics Department, Music Department, and entire community of Wagner College, a New York City liberal arts college founded in 1883 and located in the borough of Staten Island since 1918.

THE SHOWSPACE

Instructed to wear the collegiate purple Hermès beanies in each person’s room, the scene at the newly opened Arts Center on Governors Island looked like an ’80s college movie. Wooden desks were arranged in rows facing chalk boards, and bunting was strung all around featuring Hermès college pennants and banners.

THE SPEAKERS

To exemplify Hermès’ values and “Innovation in the Making”, speakers were engaged to addess guests regarding their areas of expertise. One of the most translated contemporary thinkers in the world, French philosopher, Hellenist, and sinologist, François Jullien was first up, followed by the first woman to command the International Space Station twice, record holder of most spacewalks completed by a woman (and third most of any spacefarer), NASA astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson. British-American paleoanthropologist and a curator emeritus with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Ian Tattersall was next; then Igbo-Nigerian American choreographer, performer, artist, and writer, Okwui Okpokwasili. Finally, Sir Jony Ive, creative partner of Steve Jobs, and designer of items like the MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad, AppleWatch, and AirPods, sat down with Hermès’ artistic director, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, for an inspiring conversation about the Apple and Hermès collaboration, a paragon of the perfect partnering between technology and craftsmanship.

THE AFTERPARTY

After a short time back at the hotel, guests were whisked away to a secret location (we now know the location will be the newest New York Hermès flagship store in NYC). The space was transformed into ‘Heurêka!’, an Hermès laboratory for research in the realm of objects. ‘Researchers’ called The Groomakers, dressed in top hats and lab coats, bustled about all manner of interactive installations. It was said they had been busy for many months working on the whirring machines, experimenting with the innovative objects of Hermès. What fun.

THE CATERING

If you’ve ever eaten at award-winning New York contemporary Mexican restaurants Cosme and ATLA, you will understand just how darn good chef/partner Daniela Soto-Innes’ food can be. Busy with plans to expand west, with imminent openings planned for Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Hermès guests were treated to a seemingly endless procession of bowls filled with inspired reimaginings of classic Mexican fare, each presented like a little work of edible art.

THE GUESTLIST

As the ‘researchers’ buzzed about, shouting out “Heurêka!” at intervals, guests, including queen of all supermodels Naomi Campbell strode from room to room enveloped in the excitement. Martha Stewart sipped champagne and sampled the many truffle-topped hors d’oeuvres in happy satisfaction, arm in arm with her Martha Stewart Living senior VP, Kevin Sharkey, and quite beautifully, the gardener from ‘Skylands’, her summer home in Maine. Hermès of Paris president and CEO Bob Chavez and Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas were there too, surely delighted that their esteemed guests were enjoying themselves so much. Chef Daniel Boulud was there, as was photographer Tyler Mitchell, Violetta Komyshan, Sophie Elgort, and Indre Rockefeller. A good time was had by all.

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