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Wallpaper|June 2021
Hermès hits hyperdrive with a one-off design for McLaren’s futuristic Speedtail
JONATHAN BELL

The association between the automobile and fine leatherwork is long and distinguished, but it’s not always been about luxury. Many of the earliest high-end automobiles used leather for the exposed chauffeur’s seat, with the enclosed passenger compartment featuring a more precious – but not so weather-friendly – fabric finish. Hermès understands a thing or two about weatherproofing. The grand exterior luggage for cars and carriages, first created by Émile-Maurice Hermès at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as the company’s experience in the nautical world, demanded leather of the highest grade and strength, as well as quality tanning and finishing skills. Those elements combined were the foundations of the company’s definition of luxury.

In recent years, Hermès has increased the focus and profile of its bespoke services. Under the directorship of the designer Axel de Beaufort, who joined the brand’s Bespoke and Special Projects Department in 2012, the sky is literally the limit, as the company has transferred its unique skills to practically any object you desire, whether it’s static, wheeled or winged. De Beaufort’s experience in naval architecture instilled in him an exceptional attention to detail, a skill he brings to the wide variety of Hermès’ special projects. ‘Every bespoke order comes through us, from interiors to aircraft to cars,’ he says from the workshop just outside Paris. ‘Other manufacturers don’t necessarily know that we have the experience to work on their products, but as soon as they visit, they understand.’

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