Olaf Hajek and the Dream of Hermes
Hermes has been on the scene for almost two hundred years, commanding the interest and hearts of those who love fashion for all this time. The design house is a home for luxury creativity, and boasts a creative tradition unlike any other group in the world. There’s a rich history in the brand, something that Olaf Hajek distilled into a single image. It’s one thing to create a composition for a single season or campaign, but Olaf took the entire story of a brand and condensed it into a single image that Hermes could use however they felt fit for as long as they needed it. It became an exercise in metaphor and illustration, which happens to be a unique creative undertaking. And one that he excels at.
The painting that Olaf ended up with is a direct reflection of Hermes’ logo, but brings in elements that run through the brand’s mission and how their work has affected their customers and the rest of the fashion world. To strike that kind of balance, Olaf had to go a little bit beyond reality and encapsulate the brand’s emotional history, reaching beyond the pale of our world and into another one that is more expressive. Olaf’s painting includes the recognizable tree and horse of Hermes’ logo, but also brings in impossible elements, like a leaf full of water emptying out into mountain mist, and coming back down in a river. “I always love to have this kind of surreal element, bringing all these different things together,” explains Olaf. “I just do it naturally. My hand is doing something without thinking.” Olaf’s paintings have freedoms that photography, perhaps, doesn’t. Rather that creating a reflection of reality, he can get closer to a deeper truth and representation. He can bring an index of emotion and story into one image that speaks to experience over analysis.
Hermes represents so much more than collections of clothes, and is constantly telling their story to the world. Olaf sees their work writ large across time and incorporates it into his own process. “That’s why I also play this with these symbols, like evanescence, birth; something beautiful happens and then something is going down again, it’s dying,” explains Olaf. “Water for me is an amazing element which I really love and include in a lot of paintings.” In a way, Olaf's work becomes something of a dream, connecting us to moments that live outside of our perceived reality but connect us to a deeper truth, the truth of experience.