Hermès: Effortless elegance in UNESCO
It all seemed so effortless in UNESCO this Saturday at Hermès, which made this rather menswear wonderful collection even more special.
Fashion, they often say, is a young man’s game. Trying to tell that to Hermès Véronique Nichanian, who has now been the house’s menswear creative director for 35 years.
That’s longer than the age of most designers showing during Paris’s six-day menswear catwalk season. The reason for her longevity is simple: she’s twice as good a designer as the vast majority of her colleagues.
Nichanian is no Karl Lagerfeld when it comes to post-show bon mots. She lets her collections do her talking for her. This season we heard a siren song to sporty elegance; natty nonchalance; and uber self-confident style.
Everything flowed from the top down, as Veronique played extensively with necklines and collars: cutting funnel necks onto a hybrid peacoat/donkey jacket. Fusing hikers rain-gear necklines into smart city blousons made of cashmere. Adding mini plaquettes to steely black or tobacco brown woollen sweaters; before attaching firemen fasteners to classy battleship gray leather spy trenches.
They were tricky to achieve experiments, but all so subtly done they looked utterly natural.
“Well, it’s winter and you need to stay warm,” downplayed a smiling Nichanian after presenting this fall/winter 2023/24 collection.
On top of that the tailoring was first rate: beautiful coats – jaunting redingotes or a stupendous field marshall’s coat cut with extra peacoat pockets – and roomy suits, with today’s wide leg trousers paired with expansive double-breasted jackets. Even if her key pant was in slimline leather – classy rock gentleman style.
Grand trenches, swish nylon dusters and shaven fur blousons all looked very fine, completing a collection that was quite simple error free. No designer today in menswear has such a good self-editing process.
Her palette was dark: charcoal, gravel, fog, caramel, camel, navy and ivory. Her materials were noble, yet novel: calfskin, sheepskin or water repellent cashmere mixed with technical satin, rubberized lambskin and spinnaker canvas.
Overwhelming mono-color and devoid of obvious prints, expect for a few ex libris fringed silk scarves, though leavened with a series of ingeniously embroidered and playfully stitched sweaters and twin sets.
“It’s about light and materials and this place, its pure lines and its shapes. Long proportions, and long legs for once. Straight to the point and optimist. While the stitching was a metaphor for when you love something and don’t like to throw it away and sew it up to keep them for far longer. A poetic accommodation,” explained Nichanian, gesturing to the surrounding arched concrete columns of the UNESCO complex, probably the most important modernist architectural statement in Paris.
Nichanian also played with many of today’s favorite trends in menswear but always on her own terms. All the way to the current obsession with tractor tire boots, which Hermès interpreted with the footwear of the season, a booted monk with hefty soles.
Sadly, given the nobility of the materials and superb finish these clothes are well out of the range of most young men. A pity that, because if you want to look modern, classy and distinguished and not obsessed with being an Instagram slave, this collection for Hermès by Veronique Nichanian is the best in menswear today.
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