Wanderland Exhibition, which opened at the weekend by The Dubai Mall’s famous Fountain, offers a rare peek into the quietly conceptual world of French fashion house Hermès.

Despite producing the world’s two most famous handbags – the Birkin and the Kelly – and enjoying an unrivalled reputation for quality, Hermès has never been one to blow its own trumpet. Founded in 1837 as a maker of equestrian leather goods, the company has mushroomed in size to one valued at US$38.7 billion (Dh142.1bn) last year. Yet despite such proven commercial success, Hermès has consistently remained under the radar, away from the herd.

This insistence on individuality was arguably the brainchild of Emile-Maurice Hermès, the grandson of the founder, Thierry Hermès. After taking control of the company in the early 1900s, Emile spearheaded a creative transformation, adding clothing, bags and even silk scarves to the existing equestrian repertoire.

Wanderland, then, is an homage to Emile, his artistic curiosity and the French spirit of la flânerie – to dream freely.

Exhibition curator Bruno Gaudichon told The Independent: “The journey through Wanderland draws its coherence from two intrinsic elements of la flânerie: dreaming and freedom of spirit.”

Drawing on the skills of Gaudichon – who is also curator of La Piscine-Musee d’Art et d’Industrie in France – and artist Hubert Le Gall as scenographer, the show is spread over 1,000 square metres and 11 different rooms. Eight artists, including Emirati graffiti artist Khalid Mezaina, have helped create the sets for each room, which are filled with 30,000 hand-picked items, many gleaned from the private museum of Emile-Maurice Hermès. More info

By   www.thenational.ae