Yes, that is exactly what happens as you start seeing mundane objects like ties also in a new light - courtesy Hermes!
By: Karishma Suri
Posted on: December 16, 2013
How often is it that technology and fantasy unite? Add to that the backing of an iconic French luxury brand and the resulting innovation has wowed and impressed many. India is one of them. The French heritage brand Hermès is adopting fashion's current love of all things digital and making it their baby: an installation that is making you walk the walk.
A new concept to India, it is a marriage of classical elements with contemporary designs, while artist Miguel Chevalier has used technology icons to create a multi-sensory digital art installation that has everybody waving their hands and legs while 'interacting' with it. Introducing their new collection titled "8 Ties", it was an installation comprising two exciting interactive works shown at Hermès’ Mumbai store from December 6-8, 2013.
Something new, something old
Say hello to Mr Christophe Goineau, Creative Director of Men’s Silk, and his persona weaves a story of mystery, charm and attraction. His thought was simple, “How can I make something completely new but retain the essence and base ingredients of Hermès?” His direction, however, was clear. He has tried to do something new with a touch of humour and fantasy, while retaining the elegance of classic tie designs, yet creating something so very contemporary.
Talking to men living in big cities in the 21st century who have hobbies like gastronomy, leisure or even sports, Hermès hits the nail on the head with this new collection where Mr Goineau concentrates on working with small repeat designs relating to the former, but with a rhythm and, of course, the Hermès core. While working on the collection, a colleague asked Mr Goineau to see Mr Chevalier. And the rest as they say is history. The artist imagined a projection that is larger than life so one can "really jump into the design". Of course, it has to be something connected to people, so when you move, the design as well as the pattern and the colour moves and interacts with you. And the result is a beautiful wedding, as they proudly call it, between their designs and Mr Chevalier 's ability to put it in a twist to the tangibles. Interestingly, Mr Chevalier has been using computers as his principal artistic medium since 1978, thus establishing himself on the international scene as a pioneer of virtual and digital art.
Attention to detail and love for contemporary work has led to this installation which invites you to discover the Hermès men’s silk universe through a unique method. The artist integrates eight tie designs into two works, offering an unexpected glimpse into the new collection of ‘heavy twill’ ties. These new designs embody the 2013 theme, ‘A sporting life’, and feature a variety of sports including horse-riding, running, and skiing, but also ‘No sport’ activities such as gastronomy or poker.
The eyes behind it
Wanting to see Hermès with Mr Miguel’s eyes, it was an easy task to get the artist to work with the brand. “We gave him no limits and look what he has created – this beautiful and massive experience!” said Mr Goineau.
Having being held in other locations before, the creative installations finally came to India. Set up at the Hermès upper floor gallery space in Horniman Circle, Mumbai, the two 8 Ties interactive artworks were conceived as a new way to discover Hermès men's silk ties from the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection. The first, an interactive, virtual-reality wall projection inspired by the artist’s "Binary Wave" artwork, is an enchanting experience and much more. Visitors’ movements inside the box activate an animation of magnified patterns lifted from the ties, such as poker playing cards, pétanque balls and table football players, as well as a generative music soundtrack by Italian composer Jacopo Baboni Schilingi. Using infrared cameras, Mr Chevalier uses the motion of a body to create movement, with accompanying music that grows louder the closer you get to the screen, to create a stimulating sensory experience. So horses jumping in between stripe patterns as you prance around the installation is quite normal.
The second, more intellectual, is an interactive virtual book adapted from his "Herbarius 2059”. In its pages, the visitor discovers the collection of tie designs, each one accompanied by a multilingual lexical background of the sporting and epicurean terms evoked by each design. New and unusual ways of tying a tie are also presented: the simple knot, the Windsor knot or the double simple knot and the multiple Windsor knot. After interacting with this installation, which quite clearly steals the show, take your time to appreciate the beauty and information that this book shares.
The personal connection
The most interesting aspect of these installations is the fusing of art and technology with just the right touch of fashion. Giving the artist a chance to do something that he has never done before, the brand and artist are hopeful that it will be an evolution of sorts. Mr Goineau is quite confident that India, the land of colours, will appreciate this installation. “India is such a colourful nation what with their festivities like Diwali and Holi. Maybe this installation is a digital interpretation of just that!” he said. One can actually jump into the colour and the music, but he hoped that the element of smell could also have been added to this installation since, according to him, smell is important to Indians. “In Europe, we play very safe with colour. It’s a meager touch here and there which actually is playing very, very safe. But it’s so joyous to see that Indians are completely free and out of the box. They go for it,” he added. The colours in this installation, thus, could very well be an ode to the colourful and joyous culture that India promotes.
Talking about his experience with Mr Miguel, Mr Goineau proudly said, “We didn’t work. It was play. We were connecting things together, playing. And the result is there for all to see. When you do things with pleasure, you are always happy. For our customers too, we need to give them something pleasant, thus our own happiness while working on the installation was important.” His simple belief, which mirrors that of Hermès, is that “be comfortable with yourself and what you wear – and you will be able to conquer anything!” True, and this will help evoke positive vibrations in this society to help promote a feeling of well being and optimism. Happiness with yourself, with your work and with the world - a noble thought, we'd say.
"The tie business for Hermès is not just an accessory, it’s a division, and we make the product from a single thread and it goes down to the tie being placed in the orange box. In between there are so many other steps. One small detail plus one small detail equals to one happy customer. It creates a memory. And even after two years if you wear it, it creates a memory. Everything is the most important thing," Mr Goineau added. Creating an emotional connect with the customer is what makes Hermès. So the moral at the end of this story is simple, how much a garment could connect with you and reflect you to the world! Hermès has created a tie, not only for workplace, but also in a relationship with life - what you like, your hobbies.
The product that lives on
As with everything that Hermès produces, the silk tie embodies know-how, refinement and elegance. The house has always linked tradition and innovation. They are adopting new technologies, while also fitting in with the continuity of art history. So go ahead, watch as Hermès tie patterns are set in motion. They come to life, merge, grow in size, and lead to surprising new patterns!