Is that a cow inside Hermes?

Sep 04, 2011, 04:41 IST | Lhendup g bhutia

The high-end French brand that opened its Mumbai store on July 20, also reserves a large space for art exhibitions. Step in to check out a cheetah in a mansion and stags fighting under a chandelier

The high-end French brand that opened its Mumbai store on July 20, also reserves a large space for art exhibitions. Step in to check out a cheetah in a mansion and stags fighting under a chandelier

The Herm s standalone store opposite Asiatic Library at Horniman Circle is like an air-conditioned car, in fact better. Step inside and you can't hear a peep of the din outside. No matter how many cars are on the busy the road or how many chai-sipping High Court lawyers bring their courtroom debates to the Garden. Even the loud romance of youngsters on the neighbouring Asiatic Society steps seems distant.

Inside, all you can hear is the squeak of your cheap floaters on the marbled floors and the occasional gasps of astonishment when asking the price of products. A wallet here costs Rs 3 lakh, a purse is tagged at over Rs 6 lakh, and scarves no bigger than the size of your handkerchief come at Rs 10,000. The saleswomen in trendy suits, of course, mention all of this with casual ease.

The Gatekeeper (top) and The Corridor. Pics/ Karen Knorr / Tasveer

There is a glass lift that takes you from the ground floor (filled with leather products, ready-to-wear, scarves and watches) to a floor that stores home accessories. This is where couture ends and art begins. For, opening into from a room containing fashionable plates, tables, ash trays and towels, is an open space that carries a cow on one wall. To be specific, it's a photograph of a cow on the wall.

Half of the Herm s top floor is reserved for art exhibitions. pic/ Bipin Kokate

Like its other branches across the globe, Mumbai's Herm �s also reserves space for exhibitions. In fact, here, almost the entire half of the top floor is reserved for art and culture. The store only recently opened on July 20, but its first exhibition is already out. Called Transmigrations, it is a photography exhibit by well-known French photographer Karen Knorr.

According to the communications manager of the store, a lady who resembles every bit a model at a couture event, they selected Knorr's work because it was a perfect way to bring together India and France. Transmigrations is a combination of Knorr's two well-known series -- 'Fables' and 'India Song'. In Fables, she photographed various museums and heritage sites in France, and in India Song, she replicated this in palaces, havelis, mausoleums, temples and mosques in our country.

Interestingly, in both, she has captured the images on an analogue camera and used digital images of live and dead animals photographed in museums, zoos and nature reserves on them. The result is stunning. The animals don't look incongruous to the settings, but part of them. There are antlers clashing their horns in a bright room sparkling with chandeliers and paintings, while a solitary cheetah in a Rajput mansion and a fox and a squirrel climb a staircase.

"I wanted to use animals to refer to the transmigration between fables and stories in the West and the East. Temples and palaces are filled with representations of animals in various forms. Photographing architectural sites in India lead me to reflect on how influential stories such as the Panchatantra have been to Ovid's Metamorphoses (Latin narrative poem by Roman poet Ovid describing the history of the world)," Knorr says in an email interview.

She admits she is fascinated by India -- she has already been here six times. India Song is a continuing series and she plans to exhibit more works in a few months.  Knorr will be visiting the store on September 6, and the exhibition carries on till September 22. Pay a visit. In case you aren't into photographs, you can look into the showcases to see why they call the French, the gurus of fashion.

at: Herm s, 15 A, opposite Asiatic Society, Horniman Circle, Fort
CALL: 22630093

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