Crystalline wonder from Australian designer Christopher Boots at the French retailer’s exquisite NYC boutique
When seasonal spirit overtakes NYC, imagination is often applied in the most magical, meticulous ways. Windows come to life, sparkling
with majesty and wonder and even residents of the city can't help but stop and
look. Today, luxury retailer Hermès debuted
their holiday window displays, helmed by Australian designer Christopher Boots and
in doing so, created a crystalline installation of light and color. Their
beautiful products blend seamlessly into a vibrant world of geometry and
tone—this is not just a showcase of their offerings, it's a fully formed
artistic exhibition and there's a lot behind the glass.
Boots visited NYC in September 2013, with a view in mind to find representation. One month later, after returning home to Australia, he
learned that Hermès wanted to work with him—something that came as an
unexpected surprise. "Over the next 13 months, we developed our relationship
through a couple of physical visits to the New York boutique, hours of late
night Skyping—Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of New York, so it usually was a 9AM
NY / midnight MEL call—endless emails to run over details, countless
drawings," he shares with CH. "With so many factors to consider in
the windows, the extended brief for the men’s store across the road, and also
the further possibility of undertaking external works to the facades, our
electronic documentation runs into a lot of work." That said, Boots felt
that the team within Hermès were the easiest he has ever worked with, and they
themselves were inspirational.
The brand's theme, which they delivered to Boots, was "Metamorphosis." Boots found it incredibly inspiring.
"Initially, amazing," he thought. "What a beautiful theme, a
poetic concept, that has the possibility of being interpreted in many ways. How
do we experience what metamorphosis looks like? A butterfly from a cocoon. A
volcano spewing forth liquid rock. A continent shifting, crushing carbon and
creating diamonds. My recourse was to look at the classical world. My genetic
heritage is all Greek, so it felt natural to ‘talk’ through my history by
referencing archetypes, tying this in with the history of Hermès telling the
stories that are so human to us all, that make us, us. References to Icarus and
Daedalus, Pegasus and Bellerophon were among the initial guiding agencies that
defined the interpretation of this theme."
Boots shares that the installation process, for him, "was epic, to say the least!" He further elaborates, saying, "A
few fixtures are products that are part of my current collection, and some are
especially created for Hermès. Thousands of hours of work have gone into
conceptualizing, negotiating, prototyping, testing, making and installing.
Thank goodness for the teams that have assisted in getting this project off the
ground and into the air. TwoSeven, Hermès and my wonderful studio, who to me
are my family. Without collaboration we are nothing."
At the core of it all, is a balance between natural form and material innovation. "Materiality is so paramount in a material world—we
need an understanding of the things that surround us so we can have the ability
to change them, to work them, to mold the world that we live in in ways that
suit our dreams. I love the physical and metaphysical properties of quartz, so
I’m surrounded in my studio by hundreds of kilograms of rocks all the time. My
desk is covered in a variety of rocks: obsidian, fluorite, pyrite, smokey
quartz, rose quartz. Having them in my space inspires and grounds me, and my
aesthetic is directly influenced by the crystalline structures that these
elements represent. The transparency and opacity of these minerals leaves a lot
When a window display catches your eye, it often doesn't need thorough consideration beyond sheer enjoyment. However, each clearly has a
deeper story. Hermès and Boots have demonstrated this. Many people will stumble
upon it over the season, but it's also a worthy destination—if for nothing more
than the use of light. "Creation is a process that takes an understanding
of materiality, of process, of form and pattern. Light in and of itself is
everything—everything is made of light, of particles, that simply vibrate at
lower frequencies until they become solid. In these windows, the light itself
comes through my pieces in the spirit of inspiring New Yorkers in the depths of
winter that even though the sun is gone, there is still light behind
everything," Boots concludes.
Boots’ window installations will be on display from today to
15 January 2015 at Hermès Madison, 691 Madison Avenue, and Hermès Madison Men,
690 Madison Avenue, in New York City.
Article by David Graver. Images courtesy of Hermès