As themes go, ‘In the pursuit of dreams’ is possibly the most whimsical, the most inspiring, and the most wonderfully chimerical of them all – so of course it had to belong to Hermès, arguably the only luxury house still standing today that dares to dream quite so readily without limitations. For almost two centuries, this family-run paragon of luxury has defied logic – forgoing budgets, trends and often even timeframes in favour of one lasting pillar. Craft. And by doing that, it has stayed true to its dream that anything really is possible – even the wild, ever-increasing success of exquisitely handmade but (let’s be honest) pretty costly objects, against a backdrop where the throwaway and the transient continue to reign supreme.
It’s this mindful gravitas that the maison endeavoured to show a handful of international press on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, transporting us to a rugged Norwegian archipelago 70 miles north of the arctic circle during the summer solstice. The idea? To thrust us firmly into Le monde d’Hermès – a suitably elegant, logo-lite affair where the only branding to be seen was at the check-in desks at Charles de Gaulle airport, inviting us to board a charter flight to ‘Ville Mystère’.
This mystery destination eventually revealed itself to be Tromsø. There, we were met in the harbour by a boat to sail us between icy fjords up to Musvær island, an extraordinary arctic lagoon north of the Norwegian sea that is home to just six inhabitants; members of the sixth generation of a family of goat farmers.
Disembarking at around 9pm, we stepped off the boat and into a remote fantasy landscape of glass-topped lakes, verdant hills and bright daylight (we were told to pack sunglasses alongside a significant stash of thermals). Pin-drop silence was broken by a Lithuanian trio of musicians, dotted around the valley and welcoming us with haunting folk tunes played on giant horns aimed upwards towards the disorientatingly light night sky. Clambering over the damp hills and down towards a line up of canvas teepees on the beach – our setting for dinner – a cluster of balloon-like fuchsia buoys emerged in front of a small, raised stage.
The music called us towards it, Pied Piper-style, until we found a band playing the bag pipes, hurdy gurdy and ram’s horn. Pierre-Alexis Dumas – Artistic Director and great-great-grandson of founder Thierry Hermès – is being offered a drink from what looks like a viking in a leather apron. A rainbow appears in the distance. We’re definitely dreaming. Aren’t we?
We head towards the bonfire on the beach and take shelter in the teepees. They’ve been filled with rustic tables buckling with food foraged from the fat of the land. Sitting huddled under blankets on long wooden benches, we eat seagull eggs, monkfish marinated in homemade miso for nine months and seaweed caramel prepared by Michelin-starred chef and owner of sustainable restaurant Credo in Trondheim, Heidi Bjerkan. It’s 1am, and we’re given coffee in enamel camping mugs and sent hiking across the island to watch Sigrún, a progressive Icelandic songstress, entertain us with interpretative dance and soaring vocal gymnastics. Around us, the raw natural landscape has created a makeshift amphitheatre.
“Live a waking dream,” the brand promised in its mysterious initial invitation. “A day that never ends, a day without night… where the night becomes the day.” So here we are, at the edge of the world, proving what Hermès has pioneered since 1837; that dreams are what fuel creation. That reverie is just the beginning, and that the realisation of a dream is limited by nothing but the imagination. “All dreams allowed,” the maison’s website instructs. And if anyone can make them come true, it’s Hermès.