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Hermès' Luminous Holiday Windows

Crystalline wonder from Australian designer Christopher Boots at the French retailer's exquisite NYC boutique

by David Graver
on 21 November 2014
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When seasonal spirit overtakes NYC, imagination is often applied in the most magical, meticulous ways. Windows come to life, sparkling with majesty and wonder and even residents of the city can't help but stop and look. Today, luxury retailer Hermès debuted their holiday window displays, helmed by Australian designer Christopher Boots and in doing so, created a crystalline installation of light and color. Their beautiful products blend seamlessly into a vibrant world of geometry and tone—this is not just a showcase of their offerings, it's a fully formed artistic exhibition and there's a lot behind the glass.

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Boots visited NYC in September 2013, with a view in mind to find representation. One month later, after returning home to Australia, he learned that Hermès wanted to work with him—something that came as an unexpected surprise. "Over the next 13 months, we developed our relationship through a couple of physical visits to the New York boutique, hours of late night Skyping—Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of New York, so it usually was a 9AM NY / midnight MEL call—endless emails to run over details, countless drawings," he shares with CH. "With so many factors to consider in the windows, the extended brief for the men’s store across the road, and also the further possibility of undertaking external works to the facades, our electronic documentation runs into a lot of work." That said, Boots felt that the team within Hermès were the easiest he has ever worked with, and they themselves were inspirational.

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The brand's theme, which they delivered to Boots, was "Metamorphosis." Boots found it incredibly inspiring. "Initially, amazing," he thought. "What a beautiful theme, a poetic concept, that has the possibility of being interpreted in many ways. How do we experience what metamorphosis looks like? A butterfly from a cocoon. A volcano spewing forth liquid rock. A continent shifting, crushing carbon and creating diamonds. My recourse was to look at the classical world. My genetic heritage is all Greek, so it felt natural to ‘talk’ through my history by referencing archetypes, tying this in with the history of Hermès telling the stories that are so human to us all, that make us, us. References to Icarus and Daedalus, Pegasus and Bellerophon were among the initial guiding agencies that defined the interpretation of this theme."

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Boots shares that the installation process, for him, "was epic, to say the least!" He further elaborates, saying, "A few fixtures are products that are part of my current collection, and some are especially created for Hermès. Thousands of hours of work have gone into conceptualizing, negotiating, prototyping, testing, making and installing. Thank goodness for the teams that have assisted in getting this project off the ground and into the air. TwoSeven, Hermès and my wonderful studio, who to me are my family. Without collaboration we are nothing."

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...we need an understanding of the things that surround us so we can have the ability to change them, to work them, to mold the world that we live in in ways that suit our dreams.

At the core of it all, is a balance between natural form and material innovation. "Materiality is so paramount in a material world—we need an understanding of the things that surround us so we can have the ability to change them, to work them, to mold the world that we live in in ways that suit our dreams. I love the physical and metaphysical properties of quartz, so I’m surrounded in my studio by hundreds of kilograms of rocks all the time. My desk is covered in a variety of rocks: obsidian, fluorite, pyrite, smokey quartz, rose quartz. Having them in my space inspires and grounds me, and my aesthetic is directly influenced by the crystalline structures that these elements represent. The transparency and opacity of these minerals leaves a lot of possibilities."

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When a window display catches your eye, it often doesn't need thorough consideration beyond sheer enjoyment. However, each clearly has a deeper story. Hermès and Boots have demonstrated this. Many people will stumble upon it over the season, but it's also a worthy destination—if for nothing more than the use of light. "Creation is a process that takes an understanding of materiality, of process, of form and pattern. Light in and of itself is everything—everything is made of light, of particles, that simply vibrate at lower frequencies until they become solid. In these windows, the light itself comes through my pieces in the spirit of inspiring New Yorkers in the depths of winter that even though the sun is gone, there is still light behind everything," Boots concludes.

Boots’ window installations will be on display from today to 15 January 2015 at Hermès Madison, 691 Madison Avenue, and Hermès Madison Men, 690 Madison Avenue, in New York City.

Images courtesy of Hermès

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