As an artist Hermione has always felt profoundly affected by her environment, its history and her role in its future. Her work has always striven to find a balance between the traditional and the modern, permanence and ephemerae. Creating a flower frozen in time or symbolising a moment alive in our memories, an appreciation of the rich heritage of craftsmanship necessary to embolden her creations has constantly anchored Hermione’s vision. Talent, hard work and techniques established over generations, preserved and developed for the future. When she had the chance of creating her Atelier Studio on the site of an historic Huguenot silk weaver it was an opportunity which perfectly reflected not only her personal philosophy but also the identity her eponymous design house was creating.
Located on Hanbury St in the centre of London’s vibrant East End, Hermione’s studio covers 5 floors of a historic townhouse at the heart of the original Huguenot silk and weaving community. Dating back to the early 18th Century it was originally constructed to house French protestant refugees fleeing Louis XIV’s religious persecution (a migration which introduce the word refugee to the English language). There was a strong history of silk weaving within this community so as they arrived on mass in Spitalfields the Huguenots brought this craft and set up studios in the houses specifically built for them – a fact attested to by the high ceilings left in the lofts to fit their silk looms and take advantage of the best natural light. Built between 1711-18 and initially occupied by a silk dresser, the next record for this townhouse is from 1766-73 when it belonged to a James Ouvry who listed his profession as a black silk weaver. No doubt his looms ran on the top floor where Hermione’s design office now sits.
Walking through this house is an opportunity to not only see a working couture atelier painting their own passage into the fabric of the building but also view a unique collection of Hermione’s personal archive dating back over a decade. Silk prints, collaborations, couture pieces and her favourite bridal creations are showcased across the 5 floors along with a botanical garden born at her first studio in a semi-derelict old wedding dress factory in North London. From the design studio in the loft, down through the pattern cutting and show rooms on the 1st and 2nd floors, into the beading studio on the ground floor and finally the flower room in the basement where the inhouse installations are created alongside the art room where the fresh flowers are drawn and painted, there is no other location where the processes involved in creating this work and Hermione de Paula’s collections both past and present can be seen and appreciated in the same environment as right here on Hanbury St.
Once you have finished with Hermione and the team you will find yourself in the absolute heart of London’s East End. On top of Spitalfields and Brick Lane and a 5 minute walk from Shoreditch there is an abundance of opportunities to enjoy a relaxing drink or memorable meal with your accompanying family and friends. With Google as the all-seeing eye you don’t need us to show you how to have fun but below are a few of Hermione’s current personal local botanical filled favourites which should keep you busy from sunrise to sunset before and after your fitting sessions at her showroom.
Head to Gloria’s for the perfect Italian and Blixen in Spitalfields Market for a fresh seasonal veg lunch or dinner. To see the sights of London from its gardens in the clouds try the Sky Garden for a bite and a drink with unmissable views or take a picnic and/or stroll around The Garden at 120 next door with its unique roof garden oasis containing 79 wisteria trees, 5,000 bulbs and a 200ft long recessed flowing water feature. If you are staying in London over the weekend Hermione’s Sunday favourites include afternoon tea at the Barbican Conservatory after visiting the Columbia Road flower market or if you happen to be in Kensington looking for a drink The Churchill Arms is certainly something uniquely British.
For fellow nature lovers wishing to venture further afield you can enjoy lunch at the Petersham Nurseries after a walk around the regal Richmond Park, a National Nature Reserve and deer park. Those of you looking for an adventure at dawn can head down South to explore the source of Hermione’s inspirations at the New Covent Garden Market. You might spot her there gathering flowers to take back to the studio to paint into the next botanical creation.
With Special thanks to Lauren Christie Hepburn & Lauren Burvill, Editor of @Condé Nast Brides for visiting the HdeP Studio
Photography: Storyett @storyett
Head of Atelier: Katie Parker
Flowers: Rebel Rebel