Inspiration: The Language of Fashion – Petit lexique des gestes Hermès

One of the accomplishments of 2012 that I’m most proud of is finally becoming comfortable reading en français. I’ve studied the language since childhood, have a university certificate that proclaims my proficiency and I live in a french speaking city…and yet, my life was almost entirely english before last year.

Yes, reading in french takes me a lot longer than usual. I’ve been known to take 4 days to read a copy of Figaro or Le Monde (while the news of world continues to develop at a normal pace). But the frustration level is low when you pick interesting subject matter – and for me that’s a mix of classic literature, current events and most importantly – fashion.

My latest discovery is le “Petit lexique des gestes Hermès” par Olivier Saillard.

lexicon, glossary of terms related to Hermès products and production

I spotted it in the magazine Côté Paris and knew it was right up my alley.

Published by Actes Sud\Hermès, this gem of a book brings together a glossary of terms related to the design and manufacture of Hermès products. You learn about the process of moulding and casting jewelry when you read about the word ‘fondre’, your appreciation for the pattern makers is heightened in learning about the word ‘couper’ and throughout, an elegant writing style and incorporation of references to the work of ‘the greats’ – Balenciaga and Mme. Grès for example – brings this vocabulary of fashion to life.

The sophistication of the writing and the cultural references is no surprise, as the author Olivier Saillard is the curator of the Musée Galliera in Paris…the man knows a thing or two about fashion and fashion history.

Olivier Saillard, Lexicon, glossary of terms for Hermès products and production

The book is a slim, pocket sized gem. An embossed cover, high quality paper and the sleekness of the orange, brown and white design make the book a pleasure to read. I enjoy dipping into it and reading one entry at a time – a great way to spend a few moments daydreaming about ateliers, artists and Birkins.


Petit lexique des gestes Hermès is also available in an English language translation.

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