ROOTING FOR HERMÈS: Hermès International took guests on a magical mystery tour of the Paris botanical gardens to usher in its annual theme, “The gift of time.” It started with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage under an almost full moon, past the Natural History Museum, where the outlines of dinosaur skeletons loomed through darkened windows. A tropical greenhouse where musicians recreated an eerie jungle soundtrack provided welcome, albeit brief, respite from the freezing temperatures outside.
The air was a little fresher at the Mineralogy Museum, where a 230-foot table had been laid for 300 guests — many of whom kept on their coats for dinner. Hermès creative director Pierre-Alexis Dumas said the venue symbolized the permanence of time, a theme dear to the French luxury house. “As our craftsmen know, time is one of our secret ingredients, a precious tool. Hermès time is that of apprenticeship, time to do things well, a time of quality as opposed to quantity,” he explained.
As waiters deposited mysterious white parcels next to dinner plates, Dumas announced: “Dear friends, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the carrot crooner, the parsnip piper, the root tooter, the vegetable virtuoso: Eric Van Osselaer.” While the Belgian experimental musician demonstrated how to make a flute from a hollowed out carrot, guests unpacked their own makeshift musical instruments made from root vegetables, and soon the night air was filled with cacophonic sound.