#SuzyPFW: Hermès: Being – Or Not Being – Bourgeois
It is going to take a little time for ‘bourgeois’ to become a fashion compliment, even if it is the hot word of the moment at the Autumn/Winter 2019 Paris shows.
Faced with the idea of that word to describe her work for Hermès, designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski shuddered.
“My starting point was classicism as the modern way of seeing life,” she said. “That’s why I started with the sharp tailoring. There was also the scarf of my mother – the first scarf I had ever seen from Hermès – and I pulled out so many elements from it. I just like the photograph and, above all, the technique.
“I really wanted to bring in a strong femininity, which is always difficult to define for me, which is why I am ambivalent. I just wanted really to bring the sensuality that I see in the House of Hermès.”
It was true that the beige coat – the current symbol of the return of the bourgeois look – was barely present at Hermès. That is, unless you count what looked like the most luxurious puffer coat, which was also on offer in a vivid mustard yellow.
Those brighter colours associated with the horsey French house went from ginger to orange and some more neutral shades of beige with the fabrics – especially leather – working with the different tonalities.
Nadège is faultless in her choice of colours and textures and, like so many female designers, she was aiming her designs at strong women. With David Bowie on the soundtrack and an auditorium set with woven walls to absorb sound, there was a fresh sportiness about the Hermès woman.
“The ambiguity is that she wants to be attractive, but she also wants to be left alone,” Nadège added. “You want to be strong and you are vulnerable. You can actually borrow from men’s clothing to look feminine. I like this tangency.”
This all translated into the collection as leather, and shorts of the small, taut, thigh-hugging kind. Mixed with slim leather skirts or full-length trousers, the effect was an urban sportiness.
The overwhelming quality of Hermes is just that: clothes where the simplicity never denies quality and never looks loud or in any way vulgar.
Isn’t that the essence of bourgeois dressing?
“No, I don’t think about bourgeoisie,” said Nadège. “I see more humanity and transmission, and we don’t really reject these statutes of society. I’ve always understood the house as a house of men who are experts.
“I know it’s strange to say that I find Hermès quite democratic. But it is because it appeals to everybody who can see beauty, and everybody has this inner sense.”
Colour and a cheetah keep Hermès in step
Pierre Hardy, the shoe maestro at Hermès, revealed his thoughts at the show after his presentation of footwear earlier in the week.
“Street sport shoes are just beginning to be over,” he said.
So maybe that is why, in spite of ultra-elegant sneakers, the hits were in the company’s signature colours and a drawing of a cheetah, which was used as a subtle logo.
Colours to note went from a bright orange to claret, with soft and subtle textures making even simple shoes seem exceptional.
Then there was the ‘H’ for Hermès. That signature included slide-on sandals with a furry ‘H’ on each foot.
No one could have missed the cheetah prowling up the legs of a boot. But Pierre Hardy has the skill to make all of the Hermès characteristics seem meaningful.