Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Today, put on underwear and shoes. Because - I pause for the drama - You are going to visit Hermes!

Squirrel was thrilled. A bright place in the sky! With marble tables and chairs! Velvet curtains and bowls of Pringles! Gods wearing spaghetti sandals and gold lamé skirts!

Yes, Squirrel. Almost exactly the same. Spooky. Except the accent on the god makes a weeny difference.

We are to visit Hermès. God of leather, perfumery, accessories, and ready-to-wear.

Hermès, you flit about the sky charmingly in dapper gold lamé as you twirl your French moustache. Today we are at your command. Yours, and the French people who make you.

There is an unwritten law about this. Saxon ladeez (small, shrivelled, scruffy, bad teeth, bad attitude) squeezing nightly into their woolly mammoth ballgowns, are taught this law from birth.

That French gazelles (tall, bounteous, elegant, silently haughty) are superior. Infinitely. In all matters. Especially of style, taste, and sartorial judgement.

To my knowledge, this law has not changed since 1066. Thus, I duly aspire to the reduced bins at Top Shop, while la fashionistas fling Hermès about delicate swan necks with all the insouciance that comes with knowing they are appointed the demi-goddesses for the badly dressed and primitive hoards. Like charity shop frock Grit.

But how can we Saxon peasants know this law, and be brought properly to worship, if we cannot enter the sacristry of the Parisian atelier?

The Hermès high priests have thought of this. They 'ave come up avec un solution. Bring all ze sacred objets and crafts of ze French divine to be adoréd by ze lowly minions in ze shopping churches.

Then here, at the Hermès atelier demonstration (Elements shopping mall, Kowloon. Peasants take the Tung Chung line from Central), we lowly beings may witness how Hermès priests conjure their strange and wondrous ceremonies from leather, cotton, silk, paint, and bling.

And yes, it works! Because I am in worship.

I observe how these are the very same rituals that we Grit girls do, cak-handedly and ham-fistedly.

The leather working in particular.

I have punctures in my fingers and down my right thigh from the pokey tool of mishap. Thus I observe this priest at his devotions with special attention, and know that my own small output of leather goods is achieved with not a fraction as much style, nor a glimmer of a hope for the quality of the end result.

Look! Beautiful!

Yet, you Grit watchers may be a little surprised at this particular obeisance to quality leather products and luxury goods. Am I not, after all, a beat up old hippie living in confused post-vegan penury, demonstrating no previous aspiration to Hermès?

Yes. And simply put, to wear brand Hermès, I still do not aspire. I covet not le social status of le Hermès 'andbag.

No matter what Dig fears, as he caught wind of the visit, then changed the names on all the bank accounts, and stashed his money in his socks.

Dig, fear not. Ownership is not in my mind. I could not bear the responsibility. And I must be practical. My handbag, she must store Squirrel's rock collection, Tiger's hoof pickings, and three cheese sandwiches from last Wednesday. Could I do that to Hermes?

But I recognise professional hand crafting when I see it, and for that, I am happy to know it exists.

We humans are wondrous skill makers and creators: we enjoy producing strange and beautiful things, and for me that human endeavour is more important than all consumption and social glory of ze 'andbag.

Thus Hermès, with your extra accent, know that I remain, at heart, a Saxon peasant. I still cannot bow to the name, nor recognise the society of the wearer.

But to the craft of the maker, I am in thrall.


Nora said...

I'm glad you had such a lovely time and that Hermes was kind enough to provide you with it. Will wonders never cease? It sounds like that's the kind of workshop you should go to every week. And I would gladly go with you if I could.

Grit said...

maybe you can still go, nora! i think the exhibition is in new york next? \

well, they might not be. i would check my memory, but i can't get into their website. it's sniffed out that i'm a grubby handbag girl and won't let me in.

Nora said...

New York is a little far away from me and they would find out that I'm a grubby handbag girl myself no doubt and not let me in.