If ever there were a season when it would have been easy for Hermès to trot out its heritage full gallop, it would be this one, when everyone from Michael Kors to Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing are feeling horsey, and turning out bourgeois tailoring, blanket coats and capes.
But the house has always set its own pace apart from the whims of seasonal trends. So instead, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski decided to pare the women’s wear back to a graphic essence. In keeping with the Hermès 2020 theme, “Innovation in the Making,” she presented a “manifest of purity,” as she called it, on a set of striped vertical bars reminiscent of horse jump poles.
Working in Piet Mondrian’s strict vocabulary of primary colors, she created a baseline for an Hermès wardrobe, including more options in non-leather or using minimal-leather (with the growing animal-loving luxury class in mind, perhaps?). Some looks came in both, well positioning the brand for changing values around consumption, and offering more accessible pieces as it courts customers with new product categories, including its first line of lipsticks bowing March 4.
Canvas raincoats with cape collars, contrast quilting and shearling lapels struck a preppy note, as did silk skirts with linear pattern play in the pleats. Vanhee-Cybulski focused on novelty knitwear, layering knit polo dresses over long skirts, and offering her version of a rugby with a leather Kelly clasp at the neck, plus clever turtlenecks with built-in scarf rings. Another pleasant surprise was tailoring, including a great-looking suit silhouette with side-buttoned blazer and pants slightly cropped over punky, lug-soled shoes.
Of course, there was still some leather, maybe a third of the show. And with this season’s rush of leather dressing on the runways, you could really tell the Hermès difference on a yellow pleated leather skirt and quilted leather puffer jacket. They weren’t just buttah, they were French buttah. And let’s talk about the cool leather pinafores with quilting and leather zip details. Something for a teen or twentysomething (very rich ones) to love, they underscored the multigenerational staying power that has enabled Hermès to weather many an economic storm (like the coming one, perhaps) since 1837.