National Geographic : 1972 Jul
beautiful people, the beau monde, arrive. That's the French singer Johnny Hallyday! That's Elsa Martinelli, the Italian actress! Regine welcomes them all with kisses. Do they never sleep? Keeping up with the beau monde means getting to bed around six and not stirring out until nine-in the evening. Of course, all that changes when you have to earn a living from nine-in the morning-to six. Like the people-nearly 600 of them-who work at Hermes. This establishment began as a saddlery in 1837 and later branched out to include clothing. It specializes in a silk scarf that has become its trademark. But it still majors in leather goods: saddles, bridles, belts, suitcases, attache cases, gloves, slippers; and toilet-article cases, women's handbags, men's wallets; and of course the agendas-pocket-size appointment books for which Hermes is renowned. The leather goods are all produced in Hermes's own workshops, which occupy the upper floors of three adjoining buildings, each six stories high, on the fashionable Rue du Faubourg St. Honore. "Everything is done by hand-and often to order," said 40-year-old Oxford-educated Patrick Guerrand-Hermes, one of the direc tors. "That's why it is expensive. "We want to serve the people who like well-made, beautiful things," he continued. "And those people are coming from all over the world to shop here." Just after World War II, Marlene Dietrich tried on a suede dress at Hermes. Looking at herself in a mirror, she seemed undecided until Patrick's grandfather said to her, "You'd Feasts for the eye and palate enchant diners at La Tour d'Argent as dusk colors the Seine and Notre Dame. Inns or restaurants have occupied this magnificent Left Bank site for four centuries. In a nation of gastronomic excellence, La Tour is one of only 12 establishments to rate three stars in the prestigious Michelin guide to public dining.