If you're after a historical biopic of Hermes, the highly regarded and coveted luxury brand, I suggest you stop reading now because Les Mains d'Hermes is so far from all the Hermes profiles and Wikipedia bios. I would even go as far to say that this is not a fashion film. However if you're like me and appreciate all things handmade I can assure you this documentary film by Isabelle Dupuy-Chavanat and Frederic Laffont, will be feast for your eyes (and ears).
The title which translates as 'The Hands of Hermes' depicts exactly just that; the craftsmen and women whose passion and pride make Hermes what it is. Not jaded by the label's notoriety, humbling personal accounts from a plethora of artisans are the focus throughout the film, drawing experiences and footage from leather cutters, handbag stitchers, scarf print designer, digital artists, silk screen printers and colour mixers to name a few.
What surprised me was the number of craftsmen who trained on the job either as an apprentice or their first job, with no relevant experience. One remarkable example was Michael, a former child baroque singer, who realised he couldn't sing soprano when his voice broke aged 13, now in his late teens is a leather cutter among others at the Hermes Atelier. That's not to say these artisans are unqualified, but it shows how accessible it is train as a colourist or a leather manipulator. Some roles are steeped in tradition, and can't be taught at school/university like Ange, the glassblower who is part of a 6th generation glass making family, and 3 of his brothers work in the same glass making department.
It's also refreshing to see no branding/logos to distract from the real crux and force of the film; the craftsman and their art BEHIND the brand, what goes into the product from start to finish, rather than a history of the brand. The only slight reference to this rich heritage is the opening scene of brown leathers saddles and it's leather cutters, subtlely hinting at the brand's origins in saddle making.
I was skeptical that Les Mains d'Hermes would portray the real folks at work, instead focusing on 'faces' of the international brand, namely jewellery designer Pierre Hardy, and in turn shedding little light on the artisan's and their craft. Also surprising that the makers arent named or credited with their job titles. Was it the director's intention or something Hermes dictated? Either way, the lack of opening/name credits makes for pleasant viewing. Besides these artisans aren't filmed for fame. This film was not made for name dropping but to celebrate the effort and skill that goes into the finished product
Les Mains d'Hermesit really makes you wonder the amount of man hours and TLC that goes into EVERY Hermes product. Once you've seen this film I guarantee next time you walk passed an Hermes store, you will stop and think about how many hours have gone into making that scarf/wallet/bag. And if you're lucky enough to own anything by the brand, you will appreciate it even more. Long live the power of making.