The grand opening of Hermès’s new 20,250-square-foot Maison, just one block north of the house’s former flagship store, had everything a good party should have: an original musical performance across three acts, a Katz’s food truck, a diner with caviar on the menu, and Martha Stewart.
To celebrate the brand’s location at 706 Madison — which looks more like the multi-floor home of your wealthiest friend rather than a place of commerce — Hermès took guests on an immersive journey.
For me, that journey began at the door, as I made my way past sets of intricate Hermès scarves (some made specifically for the opening) and a room filled with accessories galore: Hermès hats and gloves and plates. As I went up the winding marble staircase, I could already hear singing.
A group of performers decked out in pastel costumes, one in a blazer emblazoned with the phrase “it has to be perfect,” had begun belting out the first part of their act of the musical Love Around the Block. It somehow reminded me of Don’t Worry Darling (though, to be honest, everything seems to do so these days). Across the way, Marjorie Harvey smiled and swayed to the music with a mini–Kelly bag in her hand and a set of Loewe balloon heels on her feet. She spotted a fellow fashionista wearing a beige Hermès trench coat across the way and mouthed “Love your outfit” to her, to which she mouthed back, “I love yours.” The exchange was warm and kind. Celebs — they’re just like us but clad in clothes worth enough to pay off a mortgage.
As the performance went on, I tried to keep up with the storyline but kept getting distracted by all the Hermès around me. Something was happening between a couple named Max and Joanna. Someone lost a ring, and someone in the script said the words “You’re either a suitcase person or a furniture person,” though, I might argue, it’s more likely most people are both. But I digress.
As Act One came to a close, we were ushered down another smooth spiral staircase, this one much bigger than the one before. I looked up to see what seemed to be a never-ending passageway: a staircase to Hermès heaven, I suppose. Employees held signs above their heads that said “Follow Me,” and we did, blindly, out the doors of the new location and into the street, where the house had shut down an entire block for the party. Out here in the cool fall air, food trucks wrapped in custom Hermès branding served goodies like pastrami, tacos, cheesecake, and dumplings, to name a few. I split off from the crowd for a brief moment to grab a crustless cheesecake bite from Junior’s. I was one of the few people present without a Birkin or Kelly hanging from their arm (boo-hoo), so I figured my best shot at decadence this night was through food.
“I had no idea what this was going into it,” Laura Jung, a content creator, influencer, and self-proclaimed soon-to-be client, told me. “I thought it was a musical. I didn’t know it was a complete block party. It’s so unlike what people would think of Hermès.” On why she was there, she added, “You don’t say no to Hermès when they invite you to a party.”
Tonight, she had borrowed a mini brown Kelly: “It’s transformative to hold an Hermès bag.”
Act Two was brief and took place on an outdoor stage across from the food trucks. It had seemingly come to a close when we suddenly found ourselves crossing the street in swanky hordes, back to Hermès’s old location for Act Three, in which our aforementioned characters, Max and Joanna, got engaged. Someone must have found the ring.
In this space, the carpet was red, as was the lighting, and evoked a nostalgic, late-’70s feel, and another spiral staircase (apparently a favorite motif of the brand) connected the multiple floors that used to house New York’s Hermès collection. In the graveyard of Birkins past, attendees held cocktails and Champagne flutes and danced among one another as photographers floated through the crowd, snapping photos of the very important clientele that had shown up for the night. A few floors up, a makeshift diner had been set up, though calling it a diner felt like a stretch considering salmon tartare and a twice-baked potato topped with caviar were on the menu.
“This is super-fucking-chic. What I love about Hermès is that they don’t take themselves too seriously,” Rie Maiden, who runs the marketing department of a beauty brand, said. “The girls will always want it.”
I asked her what owning an Hermès product represents, to which she responded, “Status. Luxury. Wealth.”
Back outside, where I’d found myself once more in search of sustenance, and which I found in the form of a truffle-cheddar soft pretzel, there was no shortage of luxury on display. Chairs and tables set up on the side of the street made for prime people-watching.
That’s when we spotted the queen of status, luxury, and wealth: Martha Stewart. My friend turned to me and said, without hesitation, “This is my Paris Fashion Week.”