Mixing shopping with history and culture is one of my favourite things to do in Paris. The city is packed with boutiques and shops which are inside historic monumental buildings. In fact there are over a hundred ancient shops in Paris and Hermès Faubourg Saint Honoré is one of them that is definitely a must-see.
Hermès on the high-end shopping street Rue Faubourg Saint Honoré is the original flagship store and the oldest store in the street. In 1880 Thierry Hermès took residence at no 24 to use it as his workshop. In 1889 he opened his boutique at the same address. After adding the neighboring building at No. 26 in 1978 and enlarging the store with building No. 28 in 2007, Hermès Faubourg is to this day the largest Hermès boutique in the world.
From equestrian to high fashion
In the 19th century it was a store for leather horse back sadles and equestrian accessories but through the centuries it evolved into a luxury brand with bags and trunks for the rich elite and nobility. Today, Hermès is famed for its leather Birkin hand bags, and exquisite Chinese silk scarves.
When entering the store your eyes are immediately drawn to the mosaic tiled floor with the Hermes logo. Inside there are many design references to the brand’s origin as a leather store for horseback riding. There are two levels in the store; the ground floor has fragrances & make-up, ready-to-wear jewelry, silk & cashmere shawls and leather goods, the second floor holds more bags, home decor, fashion, equestrian accessories, and fashion jewelry and watches.
An iconic Hermès shawl
After viewing the complete store and its architecture, I headed to the shawls counter to get a much coveted iconic shawl. Hermès first began producing scarves in 1937. Robert Dumas, a member of the Hermès family, created the design for the first scarf using a woodblock. His design with the elaborate, colorful pattern quickly drew attention from women in Paris’s high society and soon, the Hermès scarf was the must-have fashion accessory. Made from imported Chinese silk, the first carrés (square scarves) were twice as strong as any other silk scarf on the market at the time.
A wearable work of art
There are a range of square shawls available in three different sizes, as well as smaller bandanas. I opted for the Index Bromeliaceae scarf a vibrant coloured square scarf with botanical print designed by Katie Scott. Since Dumas’s first design in 1937, Hermès has collaborated with many renowned artists to create the scarves’ designs. After creating the design, it’s carefully engraved into the screen for printing (a process that takes approximately 750 hours). All Hermès scarves are pieces of art that can be worn many ways – around your neck, as a top, at the waist or as a headscarf.
Other Hermès stores
Would you like to see more iconic Hermès stores in a historical building in Paris? Check out my blog post about Hermès Rive Gauche.