What would you think of Paris? There were not only terrorist attacks in my mind during the years I used to live in Paris, but also there existed the most elegant, romantic, fashionable, and artistic sense of historical and modern culture.
I still remember those Parisian films I chased when I was young, The dreamers, Before Sunset, Midnight in Paris , Hotel du Nord, Jules et Jim, Paris, Je t’aime, Amelie, La Haine, The Age of Innocence, Les Amants du Pont-neuf.
There are countless Flaneur phenomenons in French movies. A cane is the best travel companion when you walking in Paris. There are hundreds of different crossroads, and you wonder whom will encounter with you? Either the Morris advertising pillars or the street graffiti. When it occasionally rains a bit, walking in the rain is not a bad idea. Or you could enter any cafe you see on the streets, but I am sure you will not miss the arcades in Paris.
In the mid-19th century’s Paris, the convergence of urban public space attributed to the arcades in the city. In the Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin showed that the Arcades had a special sensitivity to space. He has been living in many cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Marseille, Florence, Naples, Moscow. He is good at discovering the perspective of human beings from the daily life, especially in the conditions of cities. In the early 19th century, Benjamin got inspired from the French modernist poet Baudelaire, let citizens wander freely, as the flaneur does, to find the meaning of space position in the modern world, rather than the meaning of the process of time.
Paris is romantic and elegant, it carries the world young people’s art and creation dreams, who are eager to experience in a movable feast.
The most of Paris we saw today came from the Second Empire of France. During the 22 years from 1848 to 1870, there’re tons of newly built streets closely linked to the entire city. The squares also became the highlight in transformation, such as Place Charles de Gaulle, Place de la Concorde, Place de la République, Place Vendome, Place du Chatelet, La Place Saint-Michel. After the transformation of public space where reflecting a new artistic style of the modern city, Paris, still holding the interpretation of luxury, elegance and beauty in nearly 150 years.
In addition, a large number of sidewalks began to build, the number of street lights and trees increased significantly which fully embodied the urban public space as a walking place and the role of urban landscape. Therefore, Benjamin descried Paris as “the capital of the nineteenth century.”
Charles Baudelaire proposed the concept of Flaneur in Le Peintre de la Vie Moderne. The Flaneur is not only an observer in the urban flow — but also being a poet or artist. In the view of Walter Benjamin, the behavior of the Flaneur carries out “archaeological” work, to explore the myth of modernity and the “collective dream” of modern metropolis. Flaneur can be a way to explore the city unknown to you, and it is a way to constantly discover the traces of social significance embedded in the urban tectonics.
After the success of the “DANS L’ŒIL DU FLÂNEUR” exhibition in London, Hermès brought the exhibition on a world tour to Paris, Dubai, Seoul，and till now the “Wanderland” is in Shanghai.
The flaneur’s journey includes a typical Parisian cafe setting, shop fronts done up in wistful French style to pay tribute to the brand’s past and future, combining its old-world aesthetic with modern designs. The act of aimless wandering and soaking up everyday life came to be the theme. Objects on display have been carefully and lovingly gathered from the Hermès archive, the museum collection of Emile Hermès at 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris and Hermès’ contemporary collections: a bike, a bag, a pair of boots, a travel writing case, a card deck, a watch from the house’s collection.
We had a certain practice of “Dérive” in the exhibition of Hermes. As the description in “Internationale Situationniste” by Guy Louis Debord, “Dérive” is an ability to quickly cross different situations. Romanticism set off a retro movement which lead us a toast with nostalgia to all the things we are familiar and unfamiliar in the city.
Photograph by Charlie Wang & Hermès