Leïla Menchari, the Tunisian designer and art director famous for raising the window display to an art form with his spectacular installations for Hermès, disappeared in Paris: the news was made known by the French fashion house. He was 93 years old.
Born in Tunis in 1927, Leïla had studied painting in Tunis and Paris. Her mother was a pioneer of female emancipation that allowed her daughter to watch movies, while her cousins ”never went out”. Thus the young Menchari was deeply influenced by the cinematographic imagination: “I have always loved stories, narration”. Stories he poured into his windows, true stories in images. His path was already traced: after a short experience as a model for Guy Laroche, in 1961 he had started working for Hermès under the guidance of Annie Beaumel.
Great dreamer and great storyteller, Leïla was the artistic director of the windows of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 24, home of the Hermès flagship store in Paris. His inventions have never ceased to arouse curiosity, amazement and surprise in passers-by: they were not simple windows but windows that opened onto other worlds. “Thanks to Leïla, exoticism has found a happy and permanent home on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré,” says Axel Dumas, managing director of Hermès.
Shop windows of the Hermès boutique in Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, in 1995.
In 2017, “Hermès à tire-d’aile, les Mondes de Leïla Menchari”, an exhibition which celebrates its vision at the Grand Palais in Paris, has allowed a wider audience to discover its unique and poetic universe.
“Many of us at Hermès have learned a lot from Leïla. She taught us to look at the world through the prism of color. She was an unrivaled narrator who enchanted the world. We are infinitely grateful to her for everything she has done for us, has transmitted “: so Pierre-Alexis Dumas, creative director of Hermès.