LUXURY PHOTO: LEICA AND HERMÈS
Update: Sorry, Leica Camera has disabled the embedding for their videos since I posted this, so you'll have to watch it directly from Vimeo.
I'm not one who typically jumps for collaborations; many times the result can be a muddied mish-mash of two great creative entities that leaves you yearning for the pure, singular vision. But Leica teaming up with Hermès - for what I believe is the second time in the M series - to create a camera that brings photography equipment into the aesthetic, and more significantly, the luxury realm, has me sold. Not sold on a purchase because only in a Robin Leach parallel universe could I afford it, but on the concept. It's gorgeous, but the clincher is their promotional film which shows up-close - with no soundtrack to distract from - the mastery involved in hand crafting each detail of the camera, its accessories and even the box it comes in, a process that may not be fully appreciated otherwise. And all done with manicured hands! Substance over hype is a nice change from the usual.
I used to think that the people at Hermès and the people who bought their £10, 000 and upward bags were off their macaron until I read Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, an impressively researched book tracing the decline of luxury, and in the process, exposing the ugly secrets of the (supposedly) premium fashion and accessories industry as it is today. The Paris-based author, American journalist Dana Thomas, found a rare diamond in the shiny crap pile when she visited the Hermès atelier in Paris and saw first-hand the difference between manufacturing/industry and finely crafted goods. True luxury as opposed to mass-production at luxury prices. Whether one thinks it's wise to spend that kind of money on a bag regardless of its heritage and quality is another matter. But if you are going to spend stupid money on a bag, buy Hermès and you'll actually get what you pay for.
Back to the camera. Leica created this limited edition to celebrate the friendship and collaboration between Jean-Louis Dumas, the former president of Hermès, who died in May 2010, and Leica Camera AG. Wrapped in ocre Veau Swift calfskin leather, two versions are available, M9-P 'Edition Hermès' and the M9-P “Edition Hermès – Série Limitée Jean-Louis Dumas”. The first is a limited edition of 300 that comes with a beautiful silver-anodized Leica Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens. The second, just a run of 100, comes with three lenses, a Hermès camerabag and a portfolio of 200 black-and-white images captured by Jean-Louis Dumas with his Leica M camera.
And below you can see it all being 'unboxed'. I never thought I'd be so engaged in the opening of a box, but hey!
There's no mention of it on the Leica website though. Is that weird?