Hermès Leather Forever Exhibit in Singapore
20 November 2015

Hermès Leather Forever Exhibit in Singapore

A little over a week ago, I headed over to Singapore for the Leather Forever exhibit at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Inspired by this year’s Flâneur Forever theme, the exquisite exhibition takes us on a journey of exploration of Hermès heritage, history, and craftsmanship. Divided into a total of 12 rooms, the exhibit was all about the meticulous work that goes into not just the handbags, but also accessories, and equestrian gear — all of which are brought to life with live demonstrations by the Hermès atelier who are there putting together the Birkin and Kelly bags on site,  and over 200 items from both the archives and recent collections, specially flown in for the entire duration of the exhibit.

Let’s begin the Leather Forever tour!

Wall of Orange Boxes

The Orange Box first appeared in the 1920s. At first, it was white with golden edging, then evolved to a mustard with a brown edging for equestrian saddles and harnesses. It was not until Robert Dumas was at the Maison’s helm from 1951 to 1978 that the idea of textured orange boxes made to symbolise grained leather was introduced. And, by the early 1960s the “orange box” had become synonymous with Hermès.

Rooms 1&2 : Savoir Faire

These very first rooms showcase the uncut leather skins and takes us through the tanning process and the careful selection of the very best skins. For Hermès, it’s ONE artisan who works on the entire piece, without delegating other parts to the other artisans, for example, stitching, or cutting the leather. It is the very same artisan who takes the item from the very beginning to completion. In this room, there was also a live demonstration from the Hermès artisan, who sews with a single, waxed linen thread and two needles — the saddle stitch that Hermès has become known for. He/she also then presses, shines, buffs, and polishes the item. The completed piece is then signed by the artisan who had made it.

Image courtesy of Hermès


Image courtesy of Hermès


Image courtesy of Hermès



Crocodile and Alligator skins



Artisan working on a Kelly bag



Exhibit visitors also got to try out the saddle stitch!!

The wall of bags with archival and current pieces!


Various stamps used on Hermès leather goods

 Room 3: Time Savers

From watches, diaries, portfolio cases, to memorandums, these are miscellaneous items from the Hermès archives

Image courtesy of Hermès

Room 4: The Horse, The First Client
This takes us back to where it all began: Hermès’s equestrian heritage. Riding equipment, saddle bags and leather holders for horse-grooming kits dangle from the ceiling.

Image courtesy of Hermès



Image courtesy of Hermès

Here, exhibit visitors could hop onto these mechanically automated horses and get a feel of what it’s like to be on a galloping horse. Think bucking bulls at western bars, except with a projected moving background that gives one the feeling of riding through the woods.

 Room 5: The Spirit of the Nomad

From the walls and ceiling to the lighting, this room was bathed entirely in orange.

Image courtesy of Hermès


Room 6: Discretion and Simplicity

Image courtesy of Hermès


Room 7: Fasteners or Beauty Spots? 

This room was all about the clasps

Room 8: On the Beltway
Self explanatory, it’s about belts!

Image courtesy of Hermès

Room 9: Variations on Kelly & Birkin

Room 10: When Dreams Become Reality
Custom-made leather pieces for all types of purposes. Here are their stories.. Interested in making something that’s truly unique and one-of-a-kind? Hermès has a Special Orders Workshop on the 5th floor of 24 rue du Fauborg Sanit-Honoré in Paris that can cater to your whims and needs.

The Prince of Wales ordered a present for Wallis Simpson – a wheelbarrow for her to arrange all her perfumes and gloves!

An Italian customer had a special miniature bag made  in bright green lambskin (inspired by the Granny Smith apple) for his apple. Lined in stainless palladium by silversmith Puiforcat and without any visible stitching, this “apple bag” has a knife sheath and a knife with a horn handle for him to cut up the apple.

Inspired by the Pegasus winged horse in Greek mythology, it was fashioned into a winged saddle in a combination of leathers and exotic skins.


Image courtesy of Hermès

Zouzou the Rhinoceros made in white ostrich skin, created by Leïla Menchari for the windows of the flagship store on 24 faubourg Saint-Honoré Paris in 1978.

Room 12: Star Bags
To celebrate the exhibition in Singapore and the country’s 50th Anniversary, Hermès created five Kellydoll bags as homage to each decade of Singapore’s independence. Inspired by the Kellydoll that was brought to life in 1999 by Jean-Louis Dumas, these cute smiley faced miniature Kelly bags pay tribute to the gardens in Singapore.

Image courtesy of Hermès


Image Courtesy of Hermès

And then over the river we go to the Asian Civilisations Museum for the Little Room of Wanders featuring the private collection that was put together by Émile Hermès. These objects and curios were specially flown in from the Émile Hermès Museum in Paris.

Click Image to Enlarge
Image courtesy of Hermès


Image courtesy of Hermès

And that brings us to the end of the tour!! The Leather Forever Exhibit will be at the ArtScience Museum at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands from now up till December 13th 2015! So head on over if you haven’t, because it’s definitely worth it! Plus, it’s a FREE exhibit! 😉

Images by Bag Addicts Anonymous unless otherwise stated.