Many in fashion are playing it safe these days. In tough times, people tend to stick to the tried and tested.
Not so Véronique Nichanian who opted to reach outward with her fall collection for Hermès, a house known for hewing close to its traditions and operating at a distance from the buzzy fashion world outside. The success of that strategy — which has kept Hermès independent all these years — now seems to be serving as a perch from which to branch out while much of the world folds in on itself.
And branch out she did. Nichanian offered a varied and youthful lineup, updating the look of her famously nonchalant Hermès man with hooded parkas, leather overshirts, sleeveless waistcoats, quilted T-shirts, striped sweater vests and fleecy jackets with a sporty flair.
“Inside-outside, the clothes leave their framework,” read the show notes, describing the hybrid and practical nature of the clothing. Indoor and outdoor references were mashed up, with shirts made of leather, for example.
Zippers ran up and down high collared shirts, at the ankles of tapered trousers, on sleeves, opening side pockets on the arms and serving as the closure of a hooded jacket in a Prince of Wales check.
Trousers were equally interesting — and attractive — mostly loosely cut, some tapered, others with wide cuffs; with many drawstring waists and often low crotches. Pockets added to the free-spirited nature of the collection, popping up on sleeves and applied like patchwork, outlined in white stitching on a gray workwear shirt and hidden under the saddle-stitched panel of a leather shirt.
A restricted color range kept things from getting too busy, with a lot of neutrals like olive and taupe, but also patches of a pale, muddy yellow and lavender.
For the digital presentation, she teamed again with film producer Cyril Teste. To fill in the dearly missed in-person connection, editors were hand-delivered bags of fresh baked goods — promptly delivered before the show.
Models moved up and down the central staircase of a favorite Hermès show venue, France’s Mobilier National building, which houses state-owned furniture. They paused for conversation, glanced at their phones and mingled, looking cool in colorful, calfskin sneakers while casually toting their tartan tweed Galop Fourre-tout bags.
“Our approach to clothing, now of utmost importance, is currently undergoing a transformation, and my job is to come up with propositions,” said Nichanian, acknowledging deep change in the world.
Her candor is welcome, and it suits the historic luxury firm. Fierce challenges lie ahead — notably social and environmental — which doesn’t leave much room for conservatism.