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Hermès store opening, Vancouver

French luxury goods house Hermès threw a two-part party on Sept. 12 to mark the opening of its swish new Vancouver outpost. The gathering served not just as a store opening, but a celebration of the city and the company’s long-standing place within it. The event was a reminder of just how wonderful a party can be when imagination and whimsy reign supreme.

Since 1987, the house has each year operated under a guiding theme. In 2018 it was “Let’s Play”; back in 2002, it was “Year of the Hand.” This year “In the pursuit of dreams” is the theme and it has been the impetus for fashion collections, fantastical window displays and this latest party.

The new shop, designed by Parisian architecture agency RDAI, is across the street from the brand’s original location at the corner of Burrard and West Georgia streets. There’s three times the space across two floors, and the expanded offering will suit just about every whim for the home and horse, and of course shoes, jewellery, scarves and bags abound. When I arrived on opening night, guests wrapped the perimeter of the stone-clad shop, queuing to be received at the threshold of the gleaming new space by Jennifer Carter, CEO of Hermès Canada, who was joined by Pierre-Alexis Dumas, a sixth-generation Hermès family member, who serves as the company’s artistic director. The store inside was bustling, with stylish guests, including Ada Fung and Dr. Ali Zentner, crammed into every finely crafted nook and marble cranny. The spectacular central glass staircase, which has above its landing an impressive sculpture depicting Pegasus by French artist Christian Renonciat, was at a standstill at times, leaving one no choice but to stand on a step and enjoy the view of the party from above. The guest list crossed industries, running the gamut from art (Douglas Coupland and Bobbie Burgers) to philanthropy (Carol Lee, founder of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, and Jae Kim, chief philanthropy officer at the Giustra Foundation), design (Matthew Williams of label Alyx, jewellery designer Danielle Wilmore and hat designer Claudia Schulz) and development (Christian Chan, executive VP of Burrard Group, chief among them).

The soirée, attended by 950 people, swiftly shifted to a second location, the harbour convention centre at the edge of False Creek, where Champagne and imagination were abundant and the Unlock a Dream theme was fully employed. Upon entry, a plethora of plants formed an allée that lead to the main party space; black-gloved hands emerging from the flora to serve guests drinks as they made the journey. Inside, a neon sculpture of Pegasus was suspended amid clouds above one gathering area, in another part of the space, a sea of white balloons formed a frothy mass above, and yet another installation involved a throng of massive disco balls suspended from the ceiling. Later, they rose high above revealing a dance floor that was quickly flooded with live musicians and party revellers, not quite ready to leave the dream.

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Douglas Coupland.NOLAN BRYANT

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Jennifer Carter.NOLAN BRYANT

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Moriko and Joji Murakami.NOLAN BRYANT

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Pierre-Alexis Dumas.NOLAN BRYANT/The Globe and Mail

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An art installation at the Hermès store opening after party.NOLAN BRYANT

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