How Hermès Turned a Dog Collar Into a Bag

In 1821, a 20-year-old innkeeper’s son named Thierry Hermès, who grew up in the German textile town of Krefeld, moved to France’s Normandy region and apprenticed as a saddler. Eleven years later, he opened his own workshop in Paris, where he sold harnesses, bridles and saddles crafted with a stitch that can only be done by hand. After the advent of the automobile, Thierry’s grandson Émile-Maurice Hermès expanded the company’s offerings to include driving accessories and luggage trunks, as well as clocks and wristwatches with leather casings and straps. In 1923, the house even introduced a collection of dog collars, which were elaborately decorated with leather studs, metal looped rings and fringed trimmings. They became so popular that women began wearing them as belts; as the story goes, the French couturier Marie Callot Gerber, whose dogs wore the collars, commissioned Hermès to reinterpret them as wrist cuffs.

Now, Hermès is looking back to those archival collars with the launch of its new Mini Médor Crin bag. Cinched like a sheaf of wheat, the tote is layered with blond horsehair shaped by a master wigmaker, while palladium-finished metal cabochons accent its calfskin belt. (It also comes in a black version with golden pyramid studs.) With its sensible leather strap and fringelike adornment recalling a flapper’s dress, the carryall encapsulates the Roaring Twenties while also paying homage to the brand’s equestrian roots: After all, as the company has noted, its first client was a horse.

Photo assistant: Christopher Thomas Linn

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