Hermès à tire-d’aile


Les mondes de Leïla Menchari
For thirty-five years, the nonpareil storyteller Leïla Menchari was the imagination behind the window displays at 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, each one a paean to superb craftsmanship. Their rich history is the subject of a show at the Grand Palais this autumn, from 8th November to 3rd December 2017.
Leïla Menchari

Photography: Edouard Boubat

Encounter with a stunning storyteller
“I have always loved storytelling. And here, that’s all I do.”
 “Here”, of course, is Hermès. Her home since 1961. That was the year when this graduate of the Beaux-Arts in Paris (and of the Tunis art school before that), a daughter of a strongly Francophile lawyer from a land-owning family in northen Tunisia, knocked on the door of Annie Beaumel, creator of the window displays at 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. On seeing her drawings, Annie Beaumel, director of Hermès’ window displays and pioneer of their extraordinary staging, was ecstatic: “You are a dreamer, aren’t you!” and invited her to return, saying: “Draw me your dreams!”. Leïla Menchari had found her profession: enchanting the many by giving free rein to her unbridled imagination.

Leïla Menchari and Jean-Louis Dumas in Uganda 1996

Photography: Jean-Louis Dumas

Displaying dreams in reality

Leïla, an admirer of Dalí and the Surrealists, discovered that “in the Hermès workshops, anything is possible.” Including making her dreams reality. Elation, and dizziness: when reality can be raised to the level of dream, when the magic works, the challenge is to repeat the trick, which means constantly feeding and irrigating the wonder, raising the level of delight, spurring the imagination to be endlessly creative: audacious, in a word. Some job description! “And, at the same time, the result had to be impeccable. There was no room for approximation.” What’s more, all this had to be done four times a year, applying the annual theme to each new season.

Spring 1995 « Partir d’un pied léger » (Going Light-Footed) Sculpture by Christian Renonciat

Photography: Véronique Mati

Winter 2008

Photography: Guillaume de Laubier

Summer 1998 « In the Shade of the white willow »

Photography: Guillaume de Laubier

Spring 2011 Sculpture by Christian Renonciat

Photography: Guillaume de Laubier

When designing a scene, there must always be some mystery, for mystery is the springboard to dreams. Mystery is an invitation to fill in the gaps left by the imagination. This is how Leïla Menchari explains one of the secrets behind the success of her flamboyant window displays. […]  With the ‘Hermès à tire-d’aile – Les mondes de Leïla Menchari’ exhibition, I invite you to share this otherworldliness composed of travel, mischief and beauty… Once again, Leïla Menchari is enchanting us.
Axel Dumas
Chief Executive Officer, Hermès
 
 
Exhibition 
8th November – 3rd December 2017
Grand Palais / galerie sud-est
Free admission 
#HermesLeilaMenchari
Credits:
Leïla Menchari painting
Photography: Jean-Louis Dumas