Hermès fêtes return to the great outdoors
Next summer’s Hermès womenswear is a hymn to the great outdoors, designed for women keen to reconnect with nature and take big gulps of fresh air, ready to embark on great sporting pursuits. To accommodate these women’s post-Covid propensities, after two years marked by the pandemic, the immense hall of the Tennis Club de Paris, the venue of Saturday’s Spring/Summer 2023 show by Hermès, morphed into a desert, featuring a floor of silky sand-coloured carpeting overlooked by a large central dune in iridescent colours.
The models stride across the runway to an electro-pop beat in California desert rave mood, wearing simple, practical looks in a palette of earthy hues ranging from beige to orange, brown and caramel. They seem suspended in a zero-gravity environment, floating weightlessly on carbon-fibre platform shoes with empty soles, as though they are levitating. The shoes, designed by Pierre Hardy, a long-time Hermès collaborator for footwear, look like typical Japanese platform sandals.
The wardrobe features coats, high-waisted shorts, trousers, hooded capes, parkas, sport jackets and trench coats, all fashioned from different types of leather, from smooth calfskin to lambskin and velvety double-sided suede, as well as from robust, water-repellent performance fabrics. The garments look practical, utilitarian even, suitable for trekking or wilderness camping. The back of a leather gilet incorporates a rucksack, a tank top’s armholes are wide like a sporting kit’s, pockets are decorated with metal buckles borrowed from the climbing world, while some jumpsuits are fastened with cables reminiscent of sailing or abseiling gear, tied at the waist like belts.
Elsewhere, strings slip into metal rings along the legs of a sienna-coloured jumpsuit, or into fabric eyelets to compose long, multi-segment dresses made from three pieces of white cotton or brightly coloured silk. Backstage, Hermès’s creative director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski said that these strings “are used to hold, to girdle, to create volumes. They are like lines across which fabric can be draped.”
An accessory that emphasises how Vanhee-Cybulski drew her inspiration from trekking and hiking equipment, opting for “a utilitarian, sporty mood, as well as using tent and backpack components.” This idea of a tent that can be set up and dismantled using strings and ropes is ubiquitous across the collection. A skirt is fastened by two drawstrings that cross over the chest to hang behind the neck. Elsewhere, they connect a skirt or a pair of ample trousers to a cropped shirt, baring the waist.
Sometimes strings are replaced by zips, like those encircling the waist of a corset dress to reveal a hip, adding a sensual touch to the ensemble. “Functional garments can be boring, this is why I also wanted to add some appeal,” said Vanhee-Cybulski.
To celebrate this return to nature, Vanhee-Cybulski has created a collection clearly designed to be worn outdoors, a collection “with a protective side that is at the same time in synch with nature. Clothes like a second skin, in harmony with the world around us,” she added. A feeling heightened notably by the collection’s colour palette, featuring the entire gamut of sunny hues, including the last rays of red before night time, as shown by the lustrous black veil layered over certain red garments to mute their brightness.
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