Discover the fascinating and imaginative universe of window designer Leïla Menchari
TEXT Astrid Hiort PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of Hermès
A mirrored ceiling room decorated with shiny metal plaques, big metallic suitcases and Kelly bags scattered around the floor, while a horse carrying a silver saddle stands as the magnificent centrepiece. The more you look, the more you see. It sounds like stepping through the looking glass except this is the reality of Hermès’ whimsical and always enchanting windows – the subject of Hermès’ latest exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. Dedicated to the Maison’s window designer Leïla Menchari and her life-long work of dream-catching window displays the show traces her surrealist and magical world of storytelling.
Through a series of eight tableaux staged by scenographer Nathalie Crinière, the exhibition Hermès à tire-d’aile – Les mondes de Leïla Menchari lets the spectator take a stroll while turning the pages of the Parisian saddle maker’s spirit and luxury heritage in a spellbinding and flamboyant wonderland.
“Draw me your dreams,” Menchari was told by the former head of windows, Annie Beaumel, when she first arrived at the house on 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré with her sketches under her arm in the sixties. This became the beginning of Leïla Menchari’s unfolding universe of bringing dreams to life and captivating passers-by with extraordinary window displays featuring divine Birkins in metal, Kelly bags made in delicate organdie and oversize sculptures – a career that seemed to match her previous interest in dreaming up opera and ballet stage design.
“I tell a story, which is just like a theatre show and the stars of my shows are leather and silk,” Menchari has noted of her work, spanning craftsmanship from Hermès’ exceptional artists and artisans, collaborations with painters, sculptors, straw weavers and glass-blowers – as well as tales of her birth country Tunisia and other adventurous destinations.
Hermès à tire-d’aile – Les mondes de Leïla Menchari at the Grand Palais runs until December 3rd 2017 in Paris