The legendary design house of Hermès has uncovered a piece of forgotten history from their private archives. Pulled from their vintage collections are handsome pieces of bespoke luggage produced in the 30’s for Karen Blixen, the famed Danish author of Out of Africa. The tobacco colored crocodile skin cases include every imaginable article an aristocratic author could need on a grueling journey to Africa.
The famed Parisian house of Hermes notes that the more detailed of the two pieces of luggage took its craftsmen nearly 368 hours to create. Both cases feature superior engraving and inlay, with the majority of pieces ornamented with a baroness' crown and the author's DBF monogram for Dineson Blixen-Finecke, this being a combination of her maiden and married names.
The cases feature countless compartments and leather boxes for liquor and cigarettes, pen and paper, perfume bottles and cosmetics, jewelry and brushes, playing cards and sewing items, small tools and more with most items finished in tortoiseshell and sterling silver. Hermès insists that the items appear to be unused and probably never made it to Africa where Blixen established a coffee plantation…….and therein lies something of the mystery! When the first case was ordered in December of 1930, Blixen was somewhat down on her luck and preparing to leave Africa. Hermès believes it not likely that Blixen ordered it for herself even though the archives are unclear. Could it perhaps have been intended as a gift from her blue blooded lover, Denys Finch Hatton, the dashing big game hunter and pilot???
Due to a tragic turn of events, we will never know for certain. Blixen’s lover, Finch Hatton died unexpectedly in a plane crash in May of 1931. That same year, after being plagued by drought and financial troubles that lead to her coffee plantation’s economic collapse, Karen Blixen left Africa and returned to her native Denmark where she later wrote the book Out of Africa in 1937. Even though many of us may not have read the autobiography, I’m sure most of us have seen the movie that was made decades later starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Karen Blixen died in 1962 after a long illness. To this day both her literary reputation and the Hermès cases remain untouched.
What a spectacular piece of craftMANship!