The words “Hermès” and “desert rave” might not seem as if they naturally go together—but Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s Spring Summer 2023 collection for the brand set about remedying that. Models surmounted a giant white sand dune before hitting the runway, creating a striking narrative about desert-dwelling fashionistas who happen to look perfectly put together, even while at a Burning Man-style dance fest. The show’s notes went further, capturing the Hermès woman who longs to “return to a life in the heart of nature”, who “cleverly chose clothes to suit what she expected from the desert dance: garments by turns yellow ochre, ebony, sandy beige, Thar brown, and dawn pink for the morning, to hold the coolness before it escaped”.
This narrative allowed Vanhee-Cybulski to play with Hermès’ signature blend of style and pragmatism. Dresses featured parachute pulls and knitted rope detailing, blouses included elastic cord that evoked the assembling of a tent. Designs were made to look as if each piece had been cut “straight out of a net, a hammock, or a mosquito screen”. While the shoes were sensibly, chunky platform sandals, albeit finished in covetable leather and a palette of camels and oxbloods.
It’s easy to see why fashion has a newfound fascination with the desert right now. Hermès joined Courrèges and Rochas in creating desert-like backdrops for this season’s runway shows. In the most literal sense, this year marks the first since the pandemic that we’ve begun to intrepidly explore the world again, and many of us are seeking out less obvious, more far flung destinations in an effort to “get back to nature”. (Plus, there’s the whole Dune-mania thing).
But we’re getting back to basics in a more philosophical sense too. The pandemic revealed the excesses of modern life in a stark and humbling way, and many of us are re-entering modern life with a commitment to consume in a more thoughtful, considered way. Hermès have always been at the very forefront of this conversation, their handbags are among the safest investment purchases a style conscious person can make. They’re so good, in fact, that one can easily suspend disbelief and imagine that, at their next desert rave, they might indeed be toting around an Hermès hobo too.