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How Hermès’s 2016 Will Benefit the World’s Wildcats

  • artburo
  • 18th January 2016

The luxury house’s 2016 charity scarf honors the late animal artist Robert Dallet and global conservation charity Panthera, and that's not all the brand has planned.

How Hermès’s 2016 Will Benefit the World’s Wildcats

really like objects or projects or collections that unfold like books with many stories,” says Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the artistic director of Hermès. The year 2016, which Hermès has themed Nature at Full Gallop, sees one of the most passionate “unfoldings” in Hermès history.

It started in 2013, when Dumas invited the entrepreneur and environmentalist Thomas S. Kaplan to lunch. No, it started in 2006, when Kaplan founded Panthera, a global wild-cat-conservation organization that is today the gold standard for environmental philanthropy. No, it started in 1985, when Dumas’s father, Jean-Louis Dumas, then at the helm of Hermès, discovered the work of Robert Dallet, a French animal artist whose specialty was big cats drawn from nature. Dumas put Dallet on a stipend, and his images regularly graced Hermès designs. In the wild, however, big cats were disappearing, and Dallet was in despair. When the artist died, in 2006, Pierre-Alexis Dumas believed there was something singular to be done with the company’s collection of Dallet’s work. But what? “Over lunch we talked about Panthera,” recalls Kaplan. “Pierre-Alexis pulled out these drawings and paintings. I said, ‘This is extraordinary.

Dallet would be ranked among the great cat artists. We should have a coming-out party for him.’ ” And so, the Robert Dallet Initiative for Wild Cat Conservation begins this month, on the 10-year anniversary of both Dallet’s death and the founding of Panthera, with a gala dinner and fund-raising auction conducted by Sotheby’s; a traveling exhibition of Dallet’s art, which opens at Connecticut’s revered Bruce Museum; and, naturally, a Dallet scarf—Panthera Pardus (“Leopard”). “What do Hermès and Panthera want to achieve?” asks Kaplan. “We want Dallet to roar.”