It’s an Hermès world: Q&A with French artist Audrey Frugier
The universe of Hermès comes to life as a man’s and woman’s world in the latest window installation at the Toronto Bloor Street store created by French artist Audrey Frugier. Frugier, in town from Paris last week to help set up the installation, blended the reality of a man and housewife (think a drill for him and mop for her) with
the fantasy of Hermès (both objects are completely decked out in sequins and crystals, respectively) as part of the current display. Here, she shares her inspiration for the installation, which she re-purposed from the storefront she built for the Hermès store in Milan a few months back.
It’s funny because I was going through the archives of your work and when I saw the piece of the unicorn I thought, ‘Oh that’s so Hermès!" So how did this collaboration come about? “It’s a funny story. I decided that I would like to make a sculpture of a bag using tablecloth. So one day I was having coffee with a friend and I explained to her that I would like to do a bag with tablecloth and she said that if I have to choose a bag to make, it has to be the Kelly bag. At the time, I didn’t know what that was, and my friend was really a big fan of Hermès. So I decided to write a letter to Hermès explaining my project–to do a sculpture of a bag–and I contacted customer service, and sent them some my books, which were passed along to [Hermès creative director] Pierre-Alexis Dumas! He of course refused the offer of the bag–it was a crazy idea. But he saw my book and he saw all the sculptures and said, “Oh, it’s a good idea for windows.” So Hermès called me for a meeting and we began to work together in Milan four months ago, and then I came here, in Toronto.”
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Are you bringing the same design from the Milan store window here? "Yeah, with a little bit of a transformation. It’s not exactly the same installation: I changed the fabrics, the colour — each time I try to create something different. It’s the same house, Mr. and Mrs. Hermès’ house, but each time it’s a different house. A different situation, as if they changed countries. But it’s in the same spirit."
What’s the significance behind the half unicorn, half donkey piece? "We have two feelings about that: one, is the unicorn is a dream, and the donkey is a reality and we are, all the time, caught between both. You have a big affection for donkey but you would like to be a unicorn because the unicorn is perfection. And that’s the situation with Hermès. When you are in front of the windows, you are a donkey and you would like to be the unicorn. According to me, Hermès is the unicorn. So people try to be something more and find a place in our crazy world. A world where you could be just in the middle of a donkey and a unicorn."
So that’s the analogy? "It’s an analogy of me. My work is only to speak about something funny and crazy about the world, but I don’t want to explain something about me or something precisely. It’s always a little bit of my story because when I was a child, I dreamed of horses, and now, my little daughter is really crazy about donkeys! She could see horses but she doesn’t care, for her, the donkey is the dream. She wants to hug the sculpture."
Frugier’s installation is on display now at Hermes in Toronto at 130 Bloor Street West.
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