Text Cesare Cunaccia
«How can one not be inspired when confronted by so much beauty» highlights Pascale Mussard, a woman of great charm and depth, sixth-generation Hermès family member, Artistic Director in charge of this special new venture by the French maison. «Rome is a vessel of wonders blending centuries and semantics, materials and endless languages and suggestions. One ought to be blind not to see that. Not to want to see that. I loathe people with a blasé attitude. I’m curious and love to experiment, like a continuous stream, since my childhood» adds Mme Mussard, the steely blue eyes livened by a contagious enthusiasm. «I used to take my toys apart regularly, I wanted to understand what was inside and I’ve always visited the archives, digging as if they were a mine. I continue to be that person. In Italy – a land so strongly rooted to its artistic and artisanal tradition – the sense of Petit H, hinged on the mutual relationship and the interpenetration, without frontier of any sort, between the designer and the creatives and artisans with expertise and craftsmanship prowess, becomes stronger and interprets a legacy that is alive and develops towards the future».
Pascale’s special project, Petit H, which she has nurtured like a new born and ‘raised’ with stubborn passion, has travelled to Rome in what has been Hermès’ historic location at 67 via dei Condotti, which is now employed for exhibitions and special events, and will remain here for three months. Petit H is itinerant, ephemeral and nomad by nature: its only permanent abode being Hermès flagship store on rue de Sèvres in Paris. The space within the Roman store has been interpreted for the occasion by architecture studio Caruso-Torricella as a spacious and graphic cabinet of curiosities in white with black detailing. A pop-up store replete with surprising inventions, that upcycle and reinvent, in line with the philosophy of this innovative program launched in 2011 and based in Pantin, just outside Paris, what she defines as orphan or dormant materials. These are fragments, metallic parts, door handles, ceramics and bags with the slightest flaws that would still not pass the rigorous quality standards test that are in place at the maison, prototypes, textiles, discontinued furs and leathers, buttons, locks and much more.
«All is food for thought, all a source of wonder,» adds Pascale. «Live matter. No order, no prejudice, every object, piece of furniture and furnishings is playful, different and surprising, beautiful». Hermès’ signature silk carré are transformed into tissue paper while wafer-thin Terrazzo material is fashioned into pieces of jewelry or used to embellish furniture and objects in two projects by design duo Nicolas Daul and Julien Demanche, both present at the vernissage. A life-size fairy-tale blue horse made from the inimitable leather of Birkin and Kelly bags stands tall of the center of this magnificent constellation of objects of desire intersecting a rare mix of function and striking – amazement – factor. A graceful Japanese lady, who is a renowned doctor in her home country, has travelled to Rome expressly to attend the opening. A fervent follower of the Hermès cult, she has personally designed, created and sewn the deconstructed garment she is wearing using a series of silk scarves; she only wears accessories, jewelry and watch by La Maison des Carrés Hermès and has even painted her fingers and toes’ nails with miniscule Hermès motifs and patterns. She is visibly moved, she still cannot believe it and her emotion comes across. She timidly asks to take a photo with Pascale Mussard. This is also part of the Petit H experience.