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A masculine formality, the interplay of opposites, the collection by Véronique Nichanian

In a warm color palette of neutrals Hermès merges functionality with unconventional materials in a digital show directed by Cyril Teste

Paris. February 24th 2021. Pieces that match functionality with graphic signatures, out of frames pockets and recurring asymmetries. The digital show directed by Cyril Teste – his second collaboration with Ms. Nichanian – was produced in a seven-section split screen format that allowed spectators to choose the angle they wish to see in the foreground. Helping Nichanian tell her story, the visual artist brings once again his multidisciplinary approach to a Hermès show. Cameras were set into the frame of the Mobilier National: the main spiral staircase of this national storehouse of furniture resembles a backbone bathed in light, which redefines the architecture of the place, removing barriers from the upper and lower levels resulting in an osmosis of the spaces. As the artistic director pointed out «The inside and the outside now one into another, as do the personal and the public, the private and the professional. I wanted my clothes to reflect that». A high angle shot captured models walking up and down the stairs – against a rhythmic beat they smile and stop for chats in the stairwells, ready to go outside with clothes that create new dimensions between the interior and exterior, merging the intimate and the public worlds. 

Hybrid and inventive, the looks offer a range of interplays between colors and lines in a collection that commits to be a ‘source of energy‘. Voluptuous or compact materials collide in various associations that dim the lines between formal and informal; the collection connects playful designs with a refined elegance while staying true to the French House’s codes, a combination of strong heritage, attention to craftsmanship and an eye for details through the entire manufacturing process. After initially establishing Hermès as a bridal and harness brand by founder Thierry Hermès in 1837, it is his son Charles who moved the company from the original address to 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré where it still trades at today. Since 1929 when the first couture collection was unveiled, Hermès introduced some of the most iconic product lines, particularly scarves and handbags. They remain one of the brand’s main focus as Véronique Nichanian’s latest collection has shown – accessories across Hermès Men’s Winter 2021 take on a classic while sensible form, from sleek silver chains to plaid duffels with handles in different colorways. The Maison aimed to give answers by using bold colors and a resolute take on unstudied ease. 

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Detail of the looks from the show, Courtesy Hermès

Artistic director of Hermès’ universe Nichanian emphasizes nuances. Prior to Hermès, the designer had worked with Italian couturier Nino Cerruti for twelve years, eventually co-managing the men’s collection after having graduated from the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in Paris in 1976. Since she joined Hermès in 1988, she always oversaw every crafted item of menswear the French house released over the last thirty years. The history of the label with its producing of fine equine equipment, along with its inspirations during the 30’s from books and paintings feeds directly into the role Nichanian has today – a philosophy built putting together tailored suits with the comforting informality of athleisure. Focusing on the needs of an itinerant global élite in the modern condition, in her latest work, creative director Véronique Nichanian melds unconventional materials into items capable of summoning both the comfy inside and the outside energy; nonchalant enough for everyday wear yet still entirely redefined, Hermès Men’s Winter 2021 displays a range of looks for the modern man. The fabrications continue the interplay of opposites, technical fabrics, cottons, canvas and gabardine appearing alongside double wool cashmere, tweeds and leather cuts.

A navy sweater vest with stripes of orange, mint and plum creates a juxtaposition for the streetwear vibes in sumptuous variations of blue and green plaid jacket with matching button-down shirts, in contrast with a sandy taupe overcoat. A combination of cut, volumized and slouchy-panted suiting with vivid checked and twist pocket shirts. Colored sneakers played a role matched with lambskin track pants and cardigans; joggers were at times traced with side-stripes to contrast with blouson jackets. The emblematic dark monochrome along with the charcoal cardigan and matching pants hint at a condition freed from the frenzy of this upward-forward world. The various strings of colors are interspersed in a collection of nuanced neutrals: khaki, taupe and cumin are displayed in geometric pattern variations which give the illusion of motion. A feature, both decorative and functional emerges in the show-pockets were turned into graphic detail on parkas together with the jackets whose contours were traced in saddlery stitching usually employed on Hermès leather items. In the presentation a sartorial conjunction moves this Hermès chapter along: straight- cut drawstring pants with chunky cuffs. The collection embodies Véronique Nichanian’s artistic vision balancing two different levels: the functionality, to appeal to various lifestyles and the construction, all the processes that bring long lasting items: «At a time when lifestyles are changing, we have been seeing new customs flourish. Our approach to clothing, now of utmost importance, is currently undergoing a transformation, and my job is to come up with propositions» explained the designer. The formality in the collection meets a more casual vision, a mixture of relaxed shapes and elegant layering – an incentive to embrace the new conditions people are living today while taking on a new approach to clothing. 

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Details of the looks from the show, Courtesy Hermès

The same codes of the House closed to Véronique Nichanian’s aesthetic vision can be traced back in the XIX century; at the time Hermès was specialized in saddles, taking precise measurements for horses and riders. Hand-stitched saddles took months to make with the idea of perfection expected every single time, since many Hermès clients were European royalty. Even though the leadership of the company has passed through multiple generations of the owing family, the DNA of the brand has never been compromised nor its quality has never been diluted. Those values – the dedication to integrity, vision and creativity embody the culture of Hermès, from the founder Thierry to his grandson Émile-Maurice to the Dumas family, who since the first half of the XX century managed to expand over the idea of craftsmanship: «the quality is in the eye and the hand of the artisan» explained once Axel Dumas. The fabric research is one of the features that keeps Nichanian inspired: when she was brought on board her goal was mainly to broaden the identity of the brand. The designer one said: «There is no one Hermès man—there are many. It’s a question of style, not fashion. I want to define contemporary elegance». 

Over the years each collection is designed to evolve from the last, in a perpetual dialogue with the outside dimension; Nichanian tried to see a world of change in the way, focusing on the beliefs and the ideals that made any creation possible. Hermès tradition and vision is a celebration of hard work and a quest for perfection, which are blended together in the latest show with the desire to create versatile and informal essentials, offering garments manufactured with the finest craftsmanship. As Nichanian has explained, she wants to believe in a form of optimism and pleasure indistinguishable from the creative spirit, and that is what the collection sets out to show. Hermès Men’s Winter 2021 offers new passageways between the house and the city, room and balcony, intimate and social, erasing landmarks, turning the formal into the casual while expressing an aspiration for lightness and a welcome diversion. The minimalist architecture echoes with the artistic vision behind the designs in a visual representation of the outward bound. Never straying from the codes of the house, Véronique Nichanian unveiled a collection imbued with the brand philosophy, deeply entrenched in the platform of refinement – an invitation to embrace the modern condition without losing the principle of quality: «Hermès garments reconnect people to their humanity» explained Pierre Alexis Dumas – «Our customer feels the presence of the person who crafted the object, while at the same time the object brings him back to his own sensitivity, because it gives him pleasure through his senses». As the industry is facing a vastly changed universe, Hermès finishes and constructions came into play, offering a contemporary menswear configuration interlaced with the house’s heritage practices – a new way to rethink, react and reconnect the movement of the world. 

IMAGE GALLERY

Hermès Men’s Winter 2021 evokes a dimension of inside informality executed with a deep focus on tailoring and craftsmanship. The show took place on January 23rd in Paris, unveiling the collection by creative director Véronique Nichanian. The film shot Cyril Teste was broadcast live at Mobilier National. Hermès Men Fall/Winter 2021 offers versatile essentials removing the division between private and public sphere. 

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