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Hermès redefines über-bling with its latest Haute Bijouterie!
For the woman who has everything—including the coveted Birkin and Kelly bags—Pierre Hardy has just upped the fashion ante! Now—provided that you have around 1.5 (as in million) euros, you can add a jewelled mini-replica of one of these bags to your highly insured accessories collection. When I was in Paris a few weeks ago for the
fall/winter shows, I met up with the Hermès designer to chat about his latest Haute Bijouterie collection. The diamond-laced golden whips ( the Fouet) and glossy black horse hooves ( the Centaure) are spectacular, but the pieces that raise bling to an entirely new level are the four mini-handbags, including the Kelly, which has 1,160 diamonds, and the Birkin, which has 2,712. “Both bags took more than 1,000 hours to create,” said Hardy. “The challenge was to make them magical and feminine yet still respect each bag’s original design. It’s like
making a perfume—there’s the eau de toilette and there’s the essence. I had to capture the essence and make each even more iconic than it already is. The most challenging one was probably the Kelly because it is most well known.”
Besides these two pieces, Hardy designed the Nausicaa, a flapperesque fringed mesh bag accented with 1,811 diamonds. His favourite mini, however, is the Chaine D’Ancre, which he created from the house’s iconic anchor chain. This modern, abstract piece made from white gold has—take a deep breath—11,303 diamonds with a total carat weight of 86.24.
Put your sunglasses on and then check out this sparkling sensation after the jump.
“I’m most proud of this one because it didn’t exist before,” he said. “I went from working with the very well known to the totally unknown. As a designer, it’s that opportunity to create that I love.” Only three of each bag will be made, which makes the wait time for a leather Birkin seem almost reasonable. Almost. And what
lucky woman will wear one of these ultra-exclusive baubles? “Women have different relationships with jewels,” replied Hardy diplomatically. “Some like to buy them for themselves, and some like to have them offered. But, who knows? Perhaps a man will buy it for himself.” Hardy, however, won’t be laying down any coin. While he appreciates the transformative power of jewels, he says he only wears a simple ring. “Yes, I’m not a good example,” he said, laughing. “Fashion people are the worst clients for fashion.” I asked Hardy how one might wear his little gems and whether the armed guards standing by the bags for our interview were included in the purchase price. “Well, yes, you have to find your own style because it’s not a regular bracelet and it’s not a bag,” answered Hardy. “Perhaps you tuck it discreetly in your hand—or perhaps you never wear it and you just approach it as a beautiful object that you have in your home.”
(FYI: Guards not included.) As for what goes inside, Hardy earnestly suggested that it’s the things a woman can’t live without—like a credit card or perfume. “A woman with this bag doesn’t need a credit card,” I replied. “How about a
love letter?” “Yes,” he said, laughing. “That would be a nice touch!”
Snap shot: Pierre Hardy
Background: A former dancer turned
shoe designer for Christian Dior, Hardy also used to create illustrations for
Hermès and Hardy: He joined the company in 1990 as the creative director for women and then the men’s footwear collections. In 2001, he designed his first pieces of jewellery. “I was so naive back then,” he recalled. “I just dove into it, not asking questions. I didn’t think twice. I was totally ‘Let’s go!’”
Signature style: Known for his chic, linear and sculptural touches.
Hardy and horses: His first pieces of Haute Bijouterie, which were released in 2009, featured equestrian influences such as whip-shaped diamond necklaces and horse-hoof-inspired bracelets.
Curious fact: Although he creates equine-influenced pieces, Hardy is allergic to animals. “I became allergic to every animal when I was 14—cats, dogs, rabbits and, yes, even horses!” he said. “So to me, the horse is like a fantasma. I can’t touch one—I can only think about it. It has become an object of contemplation. It’s quite iconic for me.”
Who’s jewellery box would he like to open? “Ahhh… umm…mmm… You know—I don’t know!”