HERMES – the vocabulary of beauty

Hermès is an institution in the world of luxury, not only for the quality of its products but also for its communication, especially its rich, skilful and vivacious storytelling.


A few days ago, Hermès announced the launch of the new Hermès Apple Watch and a new shade of lipstick. So what do these two items have in common? On the face of it, not much, except that the Parisian fashion house has stuck to the central theme of its brand story with perfect rigor and logic. Hermès’s creativity and imagination highlight the various facets of its long-standing storytelling, which to this day remains graceful and full of life. And it’s this that makes Hermès an institution.

Every launch is part of the brand’s story

It all goes back to the world of the saddle maker. On the dial of the new Hermès Apple Watch, the design and colour of the horse’s head change with every flick of the wrist. They bring brightness to the watch with vivid and changing colors, in keeping with the playful spirit of the fashion house which, if we’re being serious, is nonetheless joyful. As for the new lipstick, it echoes the spirit of beauty according to Hermès since the launch of this new activity in 2020.

Beauty is not just a gesture

“Beauty is a gesture” argues Hermès. It is a gesture of elegance. It is one of a woman who cares about her beauty. It is also an allusion to the gesture of the craftsman, who has been cherished by the house since its origins. The movement of the hands is sound, meticulous, and precise, like that of the woman applying her makeup and like that of the craftsman. It is now 183 years that Hermès has been deeply involved with beauty. In the house’s design studios, in its workshops, and in the minds of its managers, the launch of the make-up collection was seen as a natural progression.

“Beauty is a gesture”: the entire world of Maison Hermès can be captured in this expression

Heritage as vocabulary

The very first Hermès Beauté collection is about storytelling – a brand story that’s certainly justified. The choice of colours, sometimes soft, sometimes flamboyant, is inspired by the 75,000 material colours stored in the Hermès library in Lyon.

For the design of lipsticks, the material is given a makeover, and integrated with that which is used for leather. As it is such a fragile, sensitive and precious material, it is treated with the same delicacy and care as when applied to the skin. The cosmetic texture can be described using the same vocabulary chosen for leather; the pleasurable soft and silky touch, the feeling of a caress, and of comfort and suppleness on the lips. Like leather, the skin is a natural material, a treasure that is cultivated, protected and taken care of. This is the promise and the wisdom of craftsmanship, in the very words of the house. On the Beauty page of the Hermès web site, the photos of the lipstick are placed with those of the colored leathers.

The lacquered, polished and brushed metal of the lipstick comes in an array of striking colours, which have become a Hermès signature for several years. Additional detail: the brush that accompanies it is lacquered wood and made in France, like a little sentinel carefully guarding the know-how of our land. 

Storytelling in the world of luxury – far from being a passing fad

Hermès is an institution in the world of luxury, not only because of the quality of its products, but also for its communication, especially its rich, skilful and vivacious storytelling. This combines a sincere brand story, rooted in heritage, with exceptional visuals that convey the emotion of the colours and materials. The Hermès Beauté collection is a clear reminder of this. It also shows us that storytelling never stays still. It changes and transforms, whilst carefully distancing itself from fleeting fashion crazes. By using its identity, culture, library of colours and shades, its art of treating leather and skin, adding colour and caring for it, and by creating a vocabulary of tactile sensuality, Hermès’s new venture has certainly been a successful one.

The brand story, a well-established architecture

In the world of luxury, storytelling is simply the story of a brand; it must be possible for it to develop over time and overcome its twists and turns, and ups and downs. The words being written today to build a brand identity must be readable again in 20 years without appearing outdated or obsolete. It is at this point when we realise the subtlety of the choices made by the fashion houses, which clearly understand thatstorytelling is built in the way an architect builds a house, to last, and to stand tall during turbulent times.

A few more of them are mentioned below – those who regularly add to their story, with authentic, legitimate, precise, coherent, and demanding vocabulary, which will always bring us back to what they truly are in their essence: : Chanel Joaillerie, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and of course Hermès.

Isabelle HOSSENLOPP September 2022

The photos are the property of the author. Any reproduction of text or photos is prohibited.

Photo top of the page : the lipstick is photographed in Jean-François Canton ‘s book “NAMIKI, the poignant beauty of fragile things”, author’s edition, 2013.