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The Hermès Wanderland exhibition; Saatchi Gallery

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The two garde-robe wardrobes – belonging to a man and a woman – the objects taunt eachother.

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Stroll with the person (or dog, or a flying plastic bag) in the animation to hear their inner thoughts played out…

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A typically Parisian sky, reflected in a puddle by a typically Parisian park bench

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The Cafe of Lost Objects, home to little objects left behind by the city’s flâneurs.

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Leave your ties at the doorway…

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A bag that’s handcuffed to the coat-rack

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‘Bull in a China Shop’, or an elephant, in French.

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Postpone your breakfast plans by one hour and make sure to catch the last of the Hermès Wanderland exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London tomorrow*. If you’ve stuck around the past few weeks and discovered the curious art of flânerie with me, you will also want to experience this. Eleven rooms, each with a reference to urban wandering, collecting and peeping – it’s a grand manifestation of the Hermès’ profound belief in flânerie. Just like their window displays and playfulness in branding. And if any objects seem a bit familiar, it is because they are precisely the ones you’ve seen in part 2 of my little Hermès adventure series – straight from the cosy Collection Emile Hermes, blessed by Menehould de Bazelaire, Director of the patrimony of culture at Hermès, of course.

See? The eggs can wait.

*There is still time to visit the Hermès Wanderland exhibition; 9th April to 2nd May (closes at 1pm last day); Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY. Free entrance.

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Forever a Flaneur: Part 2

A flâneur is a collector by nature, she is an urban hunter-gatherer, borderline creepy connoisseur of the streets. If you’ve only just discovered that you are indeed what they call, a flâneur, you know very well that there is a drawer somewhere in your home full of ticket stubs and ‘pretty soap packaging’, not to mention the high chance that one of your dining room chairs might even be from the street. Heck, your entire belongings could be a collection stemmed on flanerie. Funny thing is, a flâneur is also a skilful voyeur, a peeping Tom (or Jane), and love a good, uninterrupted session of snooping. So, put two flâneurs together, and the energy created from the mutual snooping of each other’s knick-knack drawers/homes could quite possibly power a Hadron Collider and the world would never need oil. That’s my theory.

All kidding aside, the treat at the end of a day of flânerie in Paris was this – an invitation to a den of treasures atop the Hermès 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré store, the abode of the ultimate flâneur – bustling with artefacts, curiosities and objects in relation to horses, carriages and the phenomenon of movement and mobility: ‘Collection Émile Hermès’ as known internally. The collection is not open to the public, if invited though, there are no rules, labels or panels to read, no out-of-place museum apparatus and perky guides with ponytails. Our only chaperon was Menehould de Bazelaire, Director of the patrimony of culture at Hermès, a guardian whose sparkly eyes lit up as she unfolded the story behind each artefact we were drawn to.

Menehould de Bazelaire with a panorama parchment painting of London thames

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Emile Hermes’ office

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Accordion view of the Champs Elysees promenade

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A rather special side-periscope for enhanced peeping, with hidden perfume compartment

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An ancient walking stick with a hidden compartment for a pencil, golden thread-embroidered saddles from Afghanistan, an ancient book with browning pages, full to the brim with illustrated men holding pressed leaves… De Bazelaire encouraged us to touch, to see, feel and smell the objects – “these objects tell stories; they provoke and stimulate imaginations, dream, envy, and a desire to create.” A collection, started from one antique walking stick that Émile Hermès had purchased with pocket money at age 12, which had grown into over 15,000 objects, is now an internal source of inspiration for all designers from the Hermès metiers to feed on.

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The very painting (19th century, of Duc carriage & horses) where the Hermès logo was derived from!

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Japanese depiction of a ‘moving horse’. Before the invention of photography, the gallop of a horse was a thing of mystery.

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A parasol lined entirely of pheasant feather

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We ended the day at the final undisclosed location, the Jardin sur le toit (‘garden on the roof’), a serene parallel to the bustling street below, a perfect setting to gather our wandering thoughts and collections from the day’s flânerie, and to muse over them over a fruit tart and a rather heavenly pu-erh tea prepared by the Hermès in-house chef.

Experience your own flânerie at Hermès Wanderland exhibition; 9th April to 2nd May; Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY. Open 10am-6pm daily. Free entrance.

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Trousers - Zara. Bag – Gucci. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. Trainers – Isabel Marant.

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CoNrad maldives
Pt 1.
Rangali Island, maldives | www.hilton.com/

I did receive a fair bit of warning before heading to the Maldives: that the islands will take my heart and drown it deep, deep down the Indian Ocean; that I will experience a kind of feeling not so dissimilar to love, or absolute bewilderment. Like the first time I tried Chipotle? I asked, and they all said EVEN BETTER. So I packed high hopes, along with six bikinis, because another someone said most of my time will be spent chasing Pixar characters under water. I assumed they meant Nemo but packed more racy numbers just in case they actually meant Mr Incredible.

Conrad Maldives is 30-minute seaplane flight from capital Malé down into the bluest bit of the globe – by atlas standards a practically invisible clutter of tiny islands located south of Sri Lanka, with a probability of accidental discovery from zero to drunk-and-randomly-clicking-around-Google-Earth-satellite-view. As the seaplane expertly skimmed down onto the glassy sea, I couldn’t help but feel like a bond girl, seeking refuge on a glamorous island with the aid of an international spy – nevermind the ill-digested plane food and a muffin top.

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I had never seen such unadulterated scenery, such literal exhibition of colours, and immediately took up on bumping up adjectives to superlatives: bluest sea/whitest sand/bestest trip EVER…and so on. Indeed just like my first time at Chipotle. And just as I ran out of words starting with ‘A’ to describe the view over a coconutty welcome drink, a smiley Maldivian in white beckoned towards our water villas. Modern and minimalist in style, constructed of de-saturated sea wood, and pulled together by the occasional splash of blue furnishing, mine was one of 71 water villas on the island. Although, the whereabouts of the other 61 was a mystery I never managed to solve.

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I felt right at home, if home was a house above crystal clear water and a glass globe horizon for a view. This feeling of privacy was something I’d never known I cherished in hotels/resorts, I suppose more so that I was to spend the next few days alone, wrestling with a tripod and remote for photos.

As the sea lapped at the beams of the villa and the outdoor Jacuzzi gurgled every so often to compete, I was already unbuttoning my heart to give to the sea at the Conrad Maldives. And I’d soon learn that no amount of snorkelling or diving I’d be able to retrieve it.

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Stick around for part 2, and once again a happy 10th birthday to Ithaa, Conrad Maldives’ undersea restaurant – more on this later.

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinions are my own.

Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret

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flaneur
Stroller, lounger, saunterer, or loafer; the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street.

“Flattery? Flannel…? Sorry, I don’t think I know this word”, I blubbered, pausing Pauline mid-sentence as she began to explain the inseparable nature of Hermès and the art of flânerie over one eggy breakfast at Berners Tavern. What a funny word. Turns out it’s one of those untranslatable foreign words that mean a multitude of things in English yet is so satisfyingly encompassing when you finally understand exactly what it is. A complex word, like love, or sort of like when girls say ‘fine’ to their boyfriends during a quarrel.

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I’d like to think that I’ve had my own versions of that word before learning of it. Maybe that time when I was 12 and obsessed with aimlessly rollerblading around the neighbourhood alone, imaginings different lives in the houses I passed by – that was called ‘mum I’m going out with friends’ (usually met by ‘what friends? you don’t have any friends’). In uni I befriended Ellen, a fellow flâneur – and it’d take one of us to simply cock a head towards a back street and that was code for ‘we’re not going home anytime soon’. We ambled, wandered and strolled the streets of London, unconsciously categorising quirks and novelties of the city as we happened on them.

Fast forward to now, in the city that birthed the very word – Paris. It was much the same but a different enjoyment, learning the art of being a flâneur with the true master in its art, Hermès. We, along with Susie Bubble, set out from Palais Royal and meandered through time-worn galleries and under ornate, covered passageways from the 18th century; from 1st Arrondissement to the 9th, losing all sense of time and rejoicing in the lack of an objective. Or at least until our stomachs started a to-do list and put itself at the very top, which we promptly ticked off at Caffe Stern, an engraving-shop-turned-Venetian-restaurant (by David Lanher and designed by Philippe Starck).

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While I do attest to the fact that digital ‘wandering’ so totally can be a thing, and unearthing a good cat video as rewarding as finding a peculiar object off the street, true flanerie is defined by disconnecting oneself from the usual pace, and occupying with time, child-like curiosity and a discerning eye – all-in-all a luxury to be earned, even saved-up for. These values define Hermès, and therefore a perfect fit for the theme of the year and annual exhibition*. As we joined up with the bustle of the real world at the end of Passage Verdeau, a rather special treat awaited… stay tuned for part 2!

*Hermès Wanderland exhibition; 9th April to 2nd May; Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY. Open 10am-6pm daily. Free entrance.

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Coat – Dagmar. Bag – Monsieur Gavriel. Trousers – Zara. Shoes – Acne ‘Jensen’

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Bag – Coccinelle

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With every passing season it seems more and more apparent that I approach Fashion Week dressing exactly like how I prepared for my GCSE’s: Revise the crap out of the first exam on schedule (history), and then sob through the rest, cramming two years’ worth of curriculum every night before exams while simultaneously replacing water with Red Bull in my circulatory system. Fast forward about ten years later – same drill, different liquids. If ya know what I mean.

Here’s sort of a play-by-play:

All photo assistance by Simon Schmidt.

London fashion week
Day One
Confident. Prepared. Even bothered to wrestle with the printer to have the day’s itinerary at hand. Memorized the show schedule to the tune of Family Guy opening song. Three look changes neatly folded in the trunk with one to spare, we’re shooting a video throughout the day and the Hyundai Santa Fe is my changing room on wheels again. Windows not tinted dark enough but it’s Day One and I’m pumped.

Coat – Charlie May. Faux-fur stole – ASOS. Skirt – Joseph. Boots – Stuart Weitzman. Top – Zara.

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London fashion week
Day Two
Early start, breakfast in the car. Make-up completion level: 8/10. Pret plastic spoon in one hand, eyeliner in another, someone’s eating granola with an eyeliner again today… Balancing on 4-inch heels and feeling like I’m up to some good. Promises self to go home and blog everything I’ve seen today.

Cropped-trench – Reiss. Jeans – Levi’s CT. Heels – Gianvito Rossi. Dress – Razan Alazzuoni. Bag – Louis Vuitton.

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London fashion week
Day Three
Hummed tune to Family Guy over breakfast and only managed to sing ‘sex on TV’ bit correctly. No idea what’s happening today, fingers crossed assistant knows. Wearing trainers in case there’s some running involved. Ran to the loo in McDonald’s between Topshop and Paul Smith.

Sweater – Isabel Marant. Jeans – Topshop. Bag – Marni. Scarf – Acne ‘Canada’

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London fashion week
Day Four
Stuck a hand inside the khaki side of the wardrobe and pulled out outfit at the peak of desperation. Figured you can never go wrong with khaki, except maybe looking like a farmer a little. Coccinelle bag surprisingly roomy and fits camera et al. Scooore.

Quilted Jacket – Barbour. Denim jacket – Levi’s. Belt – Vintage Louis Vuitton. Culottes – Topshop. Bag – Coccinelle. Fedora – Hoss Intropia
Coccinelle
Top Handle, snakeskin effect

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London fashion week
Day Five
Peeled out layers from the laundry basket, ended up looking (and smelling) like a college student. Not sure what fashion even is anymore. Tommy, can you smell me? Turns out wearing everyday clothes = higher productivity level. No actual work done, but somehow managed to deplete phone battery by noon. Added this skill into CV with remaining 1%.

Bag – Aspinal. Jeans – Levi’s CT CT. Top & Blazer – POLO Ralph Lauren.

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