Is Saut Hermès The Most Elegant Show Jumping Event In The World?
From the fervour around the Royal Ascot race to the rise of polo events in Asia, the love for horses and all types of equestrian sports just seems to grow worldwide. It’s something not lost on a plethora of luxury brands but few can boast as strong of a link as Hermès.
The French maison’s roots as a saddle maker ensure an intimate connection with the sport and its community. Although Hermès’s product offerings have expanded—there's the exceptional jewellery collection as well as an upcoming foray into skincare—they continue to produce hand-stitched saddles for riding and jumping in collaboration with equestrians themselves. It has also kept the beloved horse as a motif on many of its designs. The way the brand puts it, "the horse was their first-ever customer".
Perhaps, it is no surprise that it has poured plenty of effort on Saut Hermès (saut means jump in French)—an event that welcomes the best international show jumping riders and horses into the Grand Palais for a competition. Last March, we joined the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Saut Hermès and offer you a closer look at the festivities.
1/5Rethinking The Grand Palais
The Grand Palais in Paris is the backdrop to many a metamorphosis and its transformations are only limited to a designer's imagination. For its 10th anniversary, the event took up the entire nave of the Grand Palais—the course was situated at the centre and was flanked by tiered seating for spectators on all sides. Both the fences on the course and the interior decor were characterised by a riot of colour, which looked especially charming as the sunshine flooded in.
(Related: Fashion Designer Kim Ellery Shares Her Top Haunts In Paris)
2/5The Intense, Three-Day Competition
Both the riders and the horses that appear on the international circuit attended the three days of five* accredited competition. Hermès commissioned Spanish international course designer Santiago Varela Ullastres to create a creative and yet challenging course for the riders, which they described as akin to "musicians discovering a new score, where riders will have to find the right rhythm, balance and line to negotiate each series of obstacles". As a spectator, I was in awe of the talent and grace of all the riders who managed the course; it was like watching an elegant ice skating performance combined with the intensity of a heated match at Wimbledon.
3/5Introducing The Vivace
During the event, Hermès also presented a new jumping saddle named Hermès Vivace, which was created by master saddler Laurent Goblet. Promising proximity, stability and comfort for riders, the saddle was made according to the feedback of riders themselves. Other riding leather goods were also on display for enthusiasts to peruse; there was also a pop-up bookstore stocked with tomes dedicated to horses and equestrian sports.
(Related: Peek Inside The Exclusive Mutton Cup Polo Tournament In Mongolia)
4/5Enthralling Equestrian Shows
Apart from the thrill of the competition, Saut Hermès also welcomed equestrian artist Lorenzo and his 12 Lusitanos, who performed against music by lead violinist Nathalie Shaw and a string orchestra. Entitled L'Envol, the show was a pure spectacle—black and white horses created different formations (such as standing in alternate positions) and executed various tricks including technically difficult jumps. Especially impressive was the fact that Lorenzo commanded the horses while standing atop of two horses (one leg positioned on one horse each). It's amazing how effortless he looked while at it.
In line with the maison's theme of "Dreams", non-riders were also able to indulge in their aspiration of flawlessly riding on horseback with a virtual reality programme created by Hermès. Called The Beautiful Escape, the VR programme provided guests with an "experience the sensation of flying through the air on horseback". I braved the modest queue and was treated to a fun experience, which began with galloping in the Grand Palais and ended with me floating above the hall and taking in the iconic Parisian panorama.