The grand Victorian façade of the Hermès store, the first ever flagship store of the brand in India, invites you to discover the beauty of Hermès craftsmanship and exceptional know-how in perfumes, jewellery, watches, silk, enamel and fantasy jewellery, leather and ready-to-wear. We spoke to Bertrand Michaud, President of Hermès, India, about their launch in Mumbai.
Talk us through your route to Mumbai.
After opening the Hermès stores in New Delhi and Pune, the obvious location for us was Mumbai. With Hermès, we usually think that it is more courteous and polite to enter the capital city of a country, rather than going where the money lies! It's more a habit, and of course, it is our way of paying tribute to India. Additionally, we wanted to be at the right location in Mumbai and that took some time. I wanted the store to be at the centre of the city, in a heritage building, and on a main street---not in some hotel or luxury mall. We worked hard on the design of the building and even harder to erect the building; waiting for several months to get the necessary permissions. The concept and the vision were very clear in my mind.
What is your strategy in India's financial capital?
We wanted to be part of the Indian life and bring the entire range of Hermès to India. Our collections vary from region to region---like our London collection is different from the Paris one---as will be the case here too. Hermès is about tradition and culture, and when in India, we want to pay homage to the traditions here. I personally think a woman looks great in a sari, so we have an exclusive collection of Indian saris interpreted by Hermès. In a limited edition of less than 40 pieces, this is our special collection for the Mumbai launch. Colours have played a central role in these Hermès creations and have been selected respecting the House's spirit and the Indian traditions. Set to launch this month, the saris are fashioned from the most beautiful materials for summer and winter, and refer to mythic and contemporary Hermès scarves: 'New Springs' in mousseline, 'Fleurs Indiennes' in double mousseline, 'Coupons Indiens' in cashmere and silk, and 'Patch' in silk twill.
Hermès's relationship with India goes back a while...
Hermès has a very strong, personal connection with India. Jean Louis Dumas, who ran Hermès for many years and turned it into the world's leading luxury icon, was obsessed with India and was a regular visitor. India has also been an endless source of inspiration for Hermès throughout its history. Known for its bounty of colours, fabrics, and craftsmanship, every year we have our craftsmen travel to India to see the colours, draw inspiration and learn about the skills and crafts here. In 1992, around 10 to12 craftsmen from Paris visited Rajasthan for almost five days to stay and learn the crafts there; we have always been interested in India as a source of inspiration. We want to explore the rich fabrics and source better craftsmanship or materials. We engage artisans and materials from India. A few years ago, we did a beautiful shawl in India that required over 700 hours of embroidery; the only place in the world where you can get such work done!
Where would you place India on the luxury radar?
The country has rich history, knowledge and experience that can be pushed even further. The fact that the Indian consumer is more aware and discerning is very encouraging.
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