A Look Back at the Best Party of 2013

Posted by Maryanne Salvat On December - 31 - 2013

hermesBy: Dr. Mary Jo Almeida-Shore 

Hermès promised, and delivered to Miami, “A Journey into the Extraordinary” for its third A Man’s World  event – following Beijing and Paris – an art-fashion happening on May 30 – a party, like none the Magic City has ever seen, filled with multi-sensory experiences and illusions designed to deeply penetrate, and somewhat overwhelm one’s senses.  Over 600 guests were in town for the unprecedented event that took place at the iconic Moore Building, the 1921 architectural monument of Miami’s Design District, a few doors down from the Hermès boutique – utilizing the building’s fascinating interior structure as a backdrop for 11 human-experience art installations that allowed audiences to connect to each one. Upon entering, guests were awed as they looked up at models and aerial artists who dangled from and walked across giant square suspension beams almost fifty feet above mirrored floors, dressed in the Spring 2013 collections.  Guests also walked across a mirrored floor that gave the illusion they themselves were walking on suspended beams of peerless beauty as they looked “into the floor,” the effects were mesmerizing. 

The entire space perfectly merged the worlds of art and fashion into a personal experience; a result of artist, Leandro Erlich, well-known for designing spaces with fluid and unstable boundaries, and Hermès Men’s Artistic Director Véronique Nichanian.  Erlich fulfilled Nichanian’s vision, of “displaying finely conceived masculine objects within extraordinary imagined settings; a world of sporting élan where menswear literally defies gravity.” Leandro is a magician”, said Michael Leondas Kirkland, who has known the artist and followed his work for over ten years – “He created a magical experience of trompe l’oeil that made us want to dive head first into the world of Hermès in more ways than imaginable.” 

Inside the main room on the ground level were six mahogany paneled elevators cabins, with doors that sporadically opened and closed to reveal models engaged in sporting activities – keeping with the evening’s theme,  “It’s a Sporting Life,” from models carrying English saddles and skateboards, to riding a bicycle and playing chess atop vintage Hermès trunks flown in for the event, to models wearing scuba gear and baseball outfits mingling amongst the audience who indulged in gourmet bites from Le Basque Catering, along with free-flowing Champagne, and then made their way to a buffet of Foie Gras, Lobster, Lamb Chops, French Cheeses, Charcuterie, among other delicacies. 

The second level boasted an extravagant men’s locker room, complete with steam showers, gym lockers with LED screens, and of course- scantly clad male physiques in Hermès! As one stood in front of a shower door, their name would appear, letter by letter, followed by a themed personalized message, such as “What’s your game’s winning move?” or “what was your worst strike out?” One could only delight in the thought that a gorgeous model could be writing the message in reverse from behind the fogged glass.  Also in the locker room was a kaleidoscope experience where a guests image would appear amid Hermès wares with beautiful men- driving home the notion of, “your view of an alternate reality… being a woman in a man’s world.”  The use of electronic ID cards, carried by guests, allowed personal interactions to be recorded and sent to guest’s via email with gifs, pictures and videos of their personal experience. 

Across the mezzanine was an interior installation with a bed dressed in cashmere and cotton ”H” bedding. Near this was a simple white desk piled with leather agendas, note pads, desk accessories, and a bright navy summer hat to suggest a young bachelor’s pied-à-terre. This sat in front of a 12-panel faux window that gave the illusion of overlooking Hermès’ rue, du Faubourg Saint-Honoré flagship.  In the same area – a model, interacting with his reflection in a mirror: making faces, shaving, and seemingly studying himself as if he were an art object. “What was so special about this?”  One finally realizes that adjacent to the room was an identical space and that the man’s “reflection” was actually that of his identical twin who was mimicking his gestures through a window, made to appear as an imaginary mirror.  Mind bending, indeed.

 

Then, on level three, came the seemingly unending fitting room maze, reminiscent of a fun house, but with windows where mirrors should be.  As one meandered through each room, expecting to see their own reflection, they were actually looking at another guest. Each section of the fitting rooms included strategically placed mirrors to give the illusion of infinity. Tah-Dah, et Voilà! 

Guests were outfitted with Hermès scarves, hats and accessories for an interactive photo booth.  There was a mirrored boxing ring, where one could don giant boxing gloves and take swings at each other in front of a photographer, who took fast-action shots.  These images were also recorded and animated for each guest’s personal webpage. 

Before the eleventh hour, most descended to the ground floor for dancing, dancing and more dancing, before parting with a coveted orange box tied in brown ribbon that revealed an  Hermès men’s silk scarf, hand-printed in cerulean, navy, chartreuse, olive, and gray, with an interlocking sports ball motif and –  ”A Man’s World, Miami 2013” near one corner. 

Among the magnificent and magical: Robert Chavez, president and chief executive officer of Hermès USA; Véronique Nichanian, Leandro Erlich, Jonathan Beck, event production designer; Jackie Soffer and Craig Robins, George Lindemann, Martina and Fabian Basabe, Criselda and Jonathan Breene, Michael Leondas Kirkland and Zachary Scott with Jessica Motes; Tara Solomon and Nick D’Annunzio, Mary Jo and Michael Shore, Sarah and Austin Harrelson, Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya, Anna Williams, Suzy Buckley Woodward, Hadley Henriette, Stefani Lobato, John Hall Nelson, and others. 

The entire evening was surreal from the get-go; a structured illusion, a fairy tale – a carnival of sorts, “trompe l’oeil”, which proved to be a show-stopping, unforgettable journey into the extraordinary.

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Mary Jo Almeida-Shore,Jose Almeida,Maryanne Salvat
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