All the world’s a stage, especially at the house of Hermès. Last night, the maison renowned for its over-the-the-top events shut down Madison Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Streets for an extravagant block party-meets-Broadway musical. The occasion was the grand opening of Madison 706, the French luxury brand’s massive new flagship store, eight years in the making and its largest brick and mortar location to date.
An immersive three-act theatrical show titled Love Around the Block began promptly at 7:30 p.m. just inside the main entrance of the former townhouse. There, guests were introduced to Max, the fictional store manager, his ex-girlfriend Joanna, a journalist on hand to cover the opening, and a full ensemble cast of “employees” outfitted in fanciful costumes and covetable Hermès accessories (which prompted one envious editor to wonder aloud if the performers might be so lucky to take home the Mini Kelly bags they were wearing).
Among the illuminated displays of the house’s famed scarves and fragrances, the ensemble belted out original songs written by Dave Malloy, tap-danced on boxes resembling orange Hermès parcels, and at one point, passed out an extra long ceremonial ribbon which was cut several times. A brass marching band would signal the end of Act 1 and lead the audience outside where a faux cafe named Gossip Bar (the site of Max and Joanna’s meet cute) had been constructed. In classic Hermès style, no detail was overlooked: On the tables at Gossip were menus featuring such pretend dishes as Shrimply the Best (Cajun shrimp on grits with remoulade) and You’re the Tots (house pressed yam tots with gruyere glaze). Meanwhile, actual food trucks had been stationed along Madison Avenue serving New York classics such as Katz’s pastrami sandwiches, Junior’s cheesecake, and, of course, hot dogs. Throughout the fantasy, waiters were on hand to offer guests a glass of champagne or themed cocktail.
In attendance were Martha Stewart, Nicky Hilton, Rachel Sennott, EJ Johnson, Grace Coddington, and Chloe Fineman as well as a host of the house’s clients and fashion media VIPs. Earlier in the day, Hermès CEO Robert Chavez expressed his relief that the weather was perfectly clear and sunny for 706 Madison’s long-awaited debut. Back at Paris Fashion Week, where the brand will present its spring 2023 collection on October 1st, the skies have been nothing but dark and stormy. The stellar forecast proved to be an auspicious beginning for the maison’s latest New York love story.