THE SO BLACK: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO JEAN PAUL GAULTIER X HERMÈS
Jean Paul Gaultier’s takeover of the artistic director position from Martin Margiela in 2003 was a calculated one. It was a time when Hermès had refined their quality and techniques down to a T but perhaps lacked relevancy in the design aspect of their collections. Gaultier was an individualist when it came to fashion, and is responsible for some of the most notable designs still used by Hermès today.
The Kelly Pochette
This modernised Kelly was released in 2004 and is a sleeker version of the existing Sellier Kelly. Gaultier is renowned for his sexy, sophisticated style and this embodied what he would do with his time at Hermès. This bag is still available from Hermès though extremely hard to come by, as with the rest of Jean Paul Gaultier’s era of leather goods.
JPG Shoulder Birkin
Potentially one of the lesser in-demand designs of the quota bags, the Shoulder Birkin is a 2005 rework of the existing Birkin silhouette with a wider, shorter torso. These have been discontinued by Hermès since 2013 but are still popular fare on the secondary market.
"I start each collection thinking how I can refresh my classics."Jean Paul Gaultier
In keeping with the sexy, evening chic design of the Kelly Pochette, another classic rework was the Kelly Cut in 2008. The long flat pouch with the classic sangles and the short handle is still another extremely popular style from Hermès.
Unofficially dubbed a crossbody Birkin, the Jypsiere was introduced in 2008, inspired by a hunting satchel and pays homage to the functional, equestrian outdoorsy heritage of the brand.
One of Hermès most underrated, versatile bags, the Kelly Danse was released in 2008. The style is of the body of a traditional Kelly with a long strap to be carried crossbody, as a shoulder bag and backpack.Gaultier’s last show for Spring 2011 saw the first appearance of the 15cm Micro Birkin, as well as the Picnic Kelly; another coveted rare piece. The So Black collection was part of Gaultier’s presentation at the brand for A/W 2010. The So Black concept was created by coating the Ruthenium fittings with black PVD-coating to create almost-black hardware. The So Black collection was also the only collection to be packaged in something other than the iconic orange Hermès packaging, instead opting for a black box, dust bag and tissue paper. The collection was only made rare by the fact that Hermès haunted production of the bag - releasing that the hardware started to chip and discolour through heavy use. Perhaps it makes the So Black that much more exciting, it will never be made again.