PARIS — A woman in a black unitard, wearing a giant horse head covered in colorful silk, was guided by a friend in equestrian garb through the crowded lobby of the Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris on Thursday night.
A model in a blue boiler suit leaned against a marble railing, tilting her head to show off giant silk-covered antlers. These, and other surreal sightings, were some of the highlights of the Bal de Soie, a masked ball organized by Hermès to showcase its colorful silk scarves.
Gabriella Cortese, the designer and founder of Antik Batik, confessed she has a closet full of Hermès scarves – some handed down from her grandmother and mother. “It’s very important in a woman’s outfit for the Paris weather, because Paris is a city where you have to cover and peel off layers like an onion,” she said.
Guests meandered through the upper floors of the theater, where they could have a makeover (think glitter lips and Frida Kahlo-style flower crowns), snap photos to share on social media, or have their scarves read by a “fortune teller” (some appeared engrossed, despite the unscientific nature of his art.)
In a dark corner of the theater balcony, Julie Gayet conferred with Hermès chief executive officer Axel Dumas. The actress – back in the headlines after a celebrity magazine published the first images of her with President François Hollande — sported a chic black dress, a colorful silk scarf soberly tied around her Birkin bag.
French rocker Johnny Hallyday and his wife Laeticia were among late arrivals at the soirée, devised by Bali Barret, artistic director of the Hermès women’s universe, with a little help from Nadège Winter.
“Of course, it was out of the question for us to revisit traditional masked balls, so we added touches inspired by [legendary nightclubs] Le Palace and Studio 54, where people would dress up, transform themselves, and step into a fairytale world,” said Winter, sporting a crown of pink flowers.
The ball is part of a series of events to celebrate the luxury brand’s annual theme, which for 2014 is Metamorphosis. Hermès has teamed up with Actes Sud to publish a book with the same title, featuring 10 short stories by authors including Mikhail Bulgakov and José Carlos Somoza alongside foldout photographs by Sarah Moon.