Simplicity and Lightness: Hermès Gets the Digital Fashion Show Right

Pin It
Hermès Spring/Summer 2021Photography by Raffard Roussel, Courtesy of Hermès

“Simplicity, nonchalance, lightness,” said Véronique Nichanian of her latest menswear collection, presented yesterday via a clever live-streamed performance

Yesterday afternoon – on the eve of the very first digital Haute Couture week – Hermès presented its Spring/Summer 2021 menswear collection at Les Ateliers Hermès, on the outskirts of Paris, via a live-streamed performance directed by Cyril Teste. Seeking to evoke the frenetic atmosphere of the eight-minutes-or-so before a fashion show, the camera followed models as they milled around look boards and rails of clothing, had their photographs taken, or were given their final preparations for the fictional runway by the atelier. The result was a spectacle which felt both spontaneous and intimate – an airy portrait of a collection which captured, as far as is possible through a computer screen, the unmistakeable energy of a runway show.

“Though the current situation forbids a live audience, spectators will be able to see backstage, and thus share in those moments of creative truth,” said Véronique Nichanian, the house’s artistic director, in a conversation with Teste – who is known for his avant-garde theatre productions – held prior to the show. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, Nichanian admitted she was forced to “pare down”, “both in conception of the collection and in choice for this presentation. For me, these constraints are an opportunity and incentive to be inventive, to research, to recreate ... It all pointed in one direction, the one I wanted to follow for this collection: simplicity, nonchalance, lightness.”

So followed a collection which captured the easy elegance which has defined Nichanian’s Hermès: lightweight blazers and blousons, in crisp striped cotton, were styled casually – rolled up at the cuff, or tucked into elastic-waist trousers. Shirting was relaxed in proportion, in various iterations of stripes, or colourful equestrian prints. Knitwear – whether sleeveless sweaters, or fine block-coloured T-shirts – provided lightweight summertime layers. The palette was fresh: shades of blue the house describes as pale, Mediterranean and storm, muted greens, greys and white, alongside flashes of vibrant fluorescent yellow.

Leather, for which the house is known, was used lightly in the collection, though a blue parka – in impossibly lightweight suede – showcased the house’s extraordinary expertise in the material. Elsewhere, calfskin sandals, and the Haut à courroies cargo bag, in canvas and leather, were the season’s key new accessories. 

“Recent events and their damaging effects on the fashion world have not gotten me down. Quite the opposite in fact; I feel like the current situation is one from which we can all extract new wisdom, and a new momentum,” Nichanian surmised. “I have always believed it takes time to create clothes that last, that age well, that are more than merely functional and for which we feel real affection.”