Perhaps there is no more careful a custodian of brand image in fashion than Hermès. The house is synonymous with and defined by the highest level of impeccable taste and classic luxury that actually fits the definition of “timeless,” a word most overused in this industry. Surely Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski was fully briefed on the finer points of the company values when she accepted the position of women’s creative director last year. In fact, it seemed like management drilled the message into her.
“I wanted to go back to the roots of the house, which is saddle-making, and within that, it’s all about expertise in leather,” said Vanhee-Cybulski after the show. “When you go to a house like Hermès, you have to work on leather. I really wanted to pick up the heritage, the ancestral tradition and bring them along to a contemporary woman.”
The runway displayed all of what the house holds sacred: Leather craftsmanship flaunted on sparely cut riding coats in blue/black lambskin and slim, straight-leg pants in vertical strips of different leathers and suedes; the iconic scarves retuned as a silk sailor top and inverted-pleat skirt, both in saturated pimento red; equestrian codes worked as navy blanket coats with burgundy and light blue stripes, and the pockets on a coated quilted jacket done in exaggerated saddle shapes. The overall look was minimal, with tradition guiding everything to a tasteful place on the luxury spectrum, where decorum took the blue ribbon and fashion was a distant runner up.
The most enticing, directional things in the lineup were worn for the final look: An ivory high-necked dress with a shirtfront and a beautiful, crafty necklace in rose gold, diamonds, navy suede, and orange, blue and yellow sapphires, and the skinny belts with a minimal, deconstructed take on the “H” buckle. Vanhee-Cybulski joined Hermès with an impressive pedigree from Céline and The Row, two labels that take pride in minimalism but do so audaciously. Now she knows the Hermès rulebook. Hopefully she’ll remember some of what she learned earlier in her career going forward.