On Safari with Hermès

Life is a journey.  Life is a safari.  Life is a pilgrimage.

Pathfinders.  Prospectors.  Pioneers.  Explorers.  Pilgrims.  Poets.  Sojourners.

Women of spirit.  Women of substance.  Women with style.  Women who have lived the questions.  Women who are ready to embrace the answers.

Women who look great in hats.  That's why we wear so many different ones.

Women who seek what is sacred in the ordinary.  Women who seek mystery and madness.  Women who seek love and passion, wholeness and authenticity.

  There are vast worlds awaiting exploration.  Worlds within and worlds without.

Sometimes the path is rocky.  Sometimes the slope is steep.  Sometimes the jungle is thick.  Sometimes the water is deep.

Don't hurry the journey along.  Better that it lasts for many years.  Longer than you can ever imagine.

Are we there yet?  Not quite. How will you know when you get there?

You'll know.

Hermès has uncovered a couple of remarkable pieces of bespoke luggage in its archives, made for famed Danish Out of Africa author Karen Blixen, aka Isak Dineson, in the 1930s. The Art Deco tobacco-colored crocodile skin cases, one ordered in 1930 and the other in 1935, contain every conceivable article an aristocratic author could need on an arduous journey to Africa.

Karen Blixen's desk, Nairobi, Kenya

Karen Blixen's desk, Nairobi, Kenya

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills."

This is how Karen Blixen starts her famous novel Out of Africa. It’s her account on living in – and falling for – Africa for 17 years.  

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"When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them." – Out of Africa, 1937

Karen Blixen

Karen Blixen

Written under her well-known pen name Isak Dinesen, Danish author Karen Dinesen Blixen-Finecke's stories place her among Denmark’s greatest authors. She was born on April 17, 1885, the daughter of a wealthy landowner, adventurer, and author.  In 1914 she went to Africa, married, and bought a coffee plantation.


The farm was 100 miles south of the Equator, at an altitude of over six thousand feet. As she would eventually learn, this proved too high an altitude for coffee to thrive. 

The farmhouse where she lived from 1914 to 1931The farmhouse where she lived from 1914 to 1931

The years in Africa were the happiest of Dinesen’s life though, for she felt, from the first, that she belonged there. Had she not been forced to leave, she wrote later, she would not have become an author.

Karen Dinesen Blixen-Finecke

Karen Blixen, 1918

In the dark days just before leaving, she began to write down some of the stories she had told to her friends among the colonists and natives. She wrote in English, the language she used in Africa.  Much of these stories are told in detail in her collected Letters from Africa, 1914-1931.

Karen Dinesen Blixen-Finecke 1961

Karen Dinesen Blixen-Finecke, 1961

Sadly, Blixen died in 1962 after a long illness.  Her home in Nairobi is now a National Museum, and is maintained for visitors in its original condition.

Decades later, her literary reputation and the Hermès cases remain, impeccable and Out of Africa was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Remember the scene where they are sitting in the middle of the stream and he is washing her hair.....ahhhh. 

In doing my research for this post, I remembered that Julia at Hooked On Houses did a wonderful post with scenes from on the filming of the movie. You've got to check it out!

And of course, the stunning pieces of her luggage belong in a museum, but the luxury goods house Hermès will be glad to make you some just like them should you be adding them to your wish list and possess the necessary funds.

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Luggage photos via The Classicist at Luxist.

Speaking of wish lists, I had mentioned a couple of days ago that I would be publishing one tomorrow. However, last night was one of those nights (we have all been there) when you find yourself working like a frantic little elf till the wee hours of the morning and suddenly half of your post just completely disappears... then you re-write it... and it disappears again!  I hope you will check back, it's a good one & it should be ready on Saturday : )

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