Hortus Insectorum, a pair of gloves designed in collaboration with Hermès for the accessories competition of the 36th international Hyères Festival

Hermès Violette Stehli Hyères Gloves

In the context of the 36th International Hyères Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories competition the finalists in the accessories category were asked to design a pair of gloves to be crafted by Hermès. The Hortus Insectorum gloves are a result of this collaboration.

In the Hermès universe nature is very present, but it is a version of nature which is often made tame by humans, where natural landscapes leave way to carefully manicured greens and domesticated animals. 

In my practice the natural world is wilder, more enigmatic and sometimes even violent. Animals live their lives in dark corners that that we seldom have access to, they act in mysterious ways beyond the limits of our control. They appear in my work as emissaries or totemic figures that enable us to channel their strengths and capacities to give our experience of the world more depth.

It seems to me that the point of intersection between our worlds lies in the garden: a place that is designed by humans, but where, just below the surface insects, larvae, microorganisms and plants communicate amongst themselves through a complex network of roots and mycelium.

The Hortus Insectorum gloves are an invitation to bring Hermès into a wilder version of nature while retaining key elements of the Hermès lexicon.

As a child I have vivid memories of going into our garden and lifting flower pots and old logs under which I would always discover insects larvae and salamanders who had chosen these spots to hide. With the Hortus Insectorum gloves I wanted to take the wearer on a similar journey back into childhood where playing in the dirt is a common occurrence. Something we seldom do as adults. The black leather of the gloves symbolises the fertile soil of gardens and forest floors, and the colourful insects represent those we might find while looking in the nooks and crannies of a garden.

The brightly coloured insects are a callback to the classic colours used in the Hermès collections but also serve the purpose of enabling Hermès to reuse scraps of leather from other items in their ateliers.

By their concept, the gloves are playful and lighthearted, something that is, to me, a core part of the Hermès philosophy. They encourage the person wearing them to engage with the world in a mischievous and poetic way, but they also subtly subvert the practical purpose of gloves in general which is to protect us from the elements, such as dirt and wetness. Here they become a means for the wearer to be more directly in contact with nature. They also remind the wearer that even in an urban context, in which these gloves are typically designed to be worn, nature is never far from us.

My hope is that with the Hortus insectorum gloves we can reconnect with nature through the eyes of a child, while integrating a sense of playfulness and joy into our daily lives.

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