A Couture Week full of novelties opened around brunch time on Sunday with the thrum of a harp and a beige room full of elaborate flower arrangements reminiscent of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski had decided to put Hermès’ resort collection on the runway for the first time, conscripting Jarvis Cocker, accompanied by Serafina Steer, to compose an original track, “I Never Gave You Flowers.”
Stinginess was not the reason for the downer title. “I never gave you flowers, because I didn’t know their names,” Cocker crooned as models tread the carpet silently in flat shoes and sandals and he recited the monikers of various blooms: cowslip, honeysuckle and lilies. Earlier, he had noted the song was inspired by Norwegian writer Henrik Wergeland’s poem exalting the romantic still-life paintings of Jan van Huysum, whom Wergeland described as “the Raphael of the floral kingdom.”
The music cast a dreamy mood of a Sunday idyll, and the collection seemed a wardrobe for the good life of garden parties, picnicking at the racetrack, or cruising on the sailboat. Garden-party dresses were especially alluring with their smocked sleeves and flounces of fabric spilling off one hip.
Vanhee-Cybulski said the runway outing was to show that “pre-collections are not just commercial.” Indeed, you don’t expect golden-yellow double-face cashmere interpreted as a summer parka, or a long Windbreaker in something rarely seen since Mugler’s Eighties heydays: vivid, glossy purple leather.
Except for the vibrant colors covering the spectrum of the floral world, the collection oozed quiet luxury and casual ease. Crocodile leather was worn in an offhand way as short skirts partially cloaked by cashmere sweaters tied around the waist.
Yet Vanhee-Cybulski still seems hemmed in by the Hermès legacy, relying heavily on scarf prints of tassels and bridles for silk shirts and dresses. She could have sent out flowers, for example.