The 16th arrondissement is not somewhere you’d typically find Carine Roitfeld and Anna Dello Russo converging, but in the name of Hermès, the trek across the Seine was one Roitfeld and Dello Russo were willing to make, along with some of the most esteemed people in fashion. They were here for Hermès Spring Summer 2020, in the historic Tennis Club de Paris, where Creative Director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski presented a show which was arguably her best yet.
Against a simple rust backdrop, similar to the red dust of en tout cas, a stream of impossibly chic women – hair slicked flat, makeup minimal – poured out in deftly crafted pieces synonymous with the uber-luxury of the brand. Hermès continues to stand as one of the few designer brands that crafts keepsakes; the kind of pieces to have, hold and cherish for a lifetime, investment pieces which transcend fad and serve you good times, great times.
This collection was yet another example of this sheer craftsmanship, striking a balance between old and new, heritage and modernity with such rigour it is difficult to fathom the task of the ateliers. As it were, Vanhee-Cybulski paid tribute to them in the most Hermès of fashion; sublime, discreet details an ode to their immaculate handiwork. The folded back of a café au lait leather dress, for example, an homage to the aprons they wear in their headquarters in Pantin, France, or a divine smock, trouser and gilet three-piece in fine chocolate wool also symbolic of their workwear.
Whilst the brand’s other heritage trope – equestrian – was honed with novel precision. A kind of neo-equestrianism, it by no means felt stuffy or stale, but rather what the chic, minimalist woman would wear on her way to work or a stylish lunch. It played out in refined saddlery, sublime leather and subtle equine details, with artful deconstructed overlays a less literal interpretation.
Utilitarianism rounded out the collection, a concept Vanhee-Cybulski was keen to flesh out from the beginning. But again, utility pockets and buckling was rendered with finesse, and while it remained graphic and bold, it maintained a sense of delicacy. There were stylish safari rompers in burnt orange, belted leather jackets in terracotta and lightweight patchwork tunics, a collection anchored in earthen hues.
And of course, leather – because what Hermès show would be without it? A cropped boxy jacket in chartreuse suede was a feast both visual and tactile, as too aerated laser-cut basket bags, while a lofty leather shift with waist cut-outs and silver hardware left us wondering how we would go a single day without it.
Instead of ripping up the sartorial semiology of the House (of which others have done around her), Vanhee-Cybulski continues to honour the great Hermès legacy with soft skills and deft artisanship. Hermès runs deep in the annals of luxury, and Spring Summer 2020 is yet another example of why it is – and always will be – the frontrunner when it comes to premium, refined and above all, luxurious fashion.
A word, From the show notes
Beauty is quite a mysterious thing.
There was a time when it had to be synonymous with perfection; it was an Ideal.
We had almost forgotten that the Ideal could also be altered. And had to be.
It never was that fixed, rigid unbending thing; it is the constantly changing horizon.
And perfection? Ah, nowadays perfection takes
a backseat to movement.
Beauty: all kinds.
We catch a glimpse of these beauties in silhouettes striding forth, blithely unafraid of paradox,
of unexpected alliances — on the contrary.
Kalós as the Greeks used to say.
Using that same term, they pretended to confound the beautiful and the good.
Physical splendour and moral grandeur.
The Greeks always had a good sense of humor — of the clairvoyant kind.
Our metamorphoses have become our new idealism, our only beauty.
He watches her dress.
Organdy and leather.
When she puts it on, her hand beckons to a new horizon. Whisper sweet nothings in my ear? Let us stroll under
a Bubinga pink sky, into dusk.
Whisper sweet nothings in my ear? Laisse-moi tranquille.