It was a good hair day at Hermès. Over the winter, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski had woken up and decided to chop off her long copper-red mane. “I put a band around it and did it myself,” she said. She was walking around backstage, looking great, with her new bob. It mightn’t jump out immediately from the photographs, but the subtle-chic she put into her collection was rooted (forgive pun) in her “tribute to hair, human hair. And the symbolism of it as a feminine attribute.”
She glancingly suggested that she’d loosely based the top-to-toe hues on the dye-charts of hair colors that every woman knows from the aisles of drug stores the world over. The opening look—a wavy-patterned lurex sweater over matching knee-length shorts—hit the runway dangling a bag made of horse hair, cinched in the middle with a silver-embossed leather strap. A wink, perhaps, to the moment that Vanhee-Cybulski lopped off her own pony-tail.
It gave her a kind of reference framework for various techniques. It was picked up in the braid on the front of a sweater, the detail of chunky scarves which were thrown over the backs of jackets and fastened with chrome bands, the rippling waves embedded in an intarsia shearling coat.
Yet Hermès never relies on anything as obvious as a mono-themed narrative. In the broader context of fashion, Vanhee-Cybulski’s collection is one place where it’s all about the value of clothes, and the nuances and functionality threaded through the bags and accessories.
All eyes were riveted by the square-toed over-the-knee suede boots which went with everything, in every shade, from the beginning to the silky plissé beaded dresses at the end. The heels, made in the elegantly tapered shape of inverted horse-shoe nails, were an on-point silhouette for women on the lookout for a new alternative to stilettos. Vanhee-Cybulski delights in developing these details, on a continuum that upholds the casual outdoor-sporty culture of the house in ingeniously posh ways. The technical padded jacket, for one. This season, it took on the sense of a brown duvet-parka, with a back hitched up with a shoulder-chain. It turned out to unzip into an actual sleeping bag. And amongst these looks came the classic Birkin, de-ladyfied and casualized for everyday with useful, removable cross-body straps.
Vanhee-Cybulski had a great way of describing how she thinks about coaxing this kind of modernity out of classic, conservative design templates. “They are archetypes, maybe the most boring clothes on earth, but I want to kind of bring this surprising creativity to them,” she remarked. “I want to keep this tradition of finding the right balance between the pattern and the fabric. I mean,” she added, “I’m definitely the first one saying that I love casual—but it’s also important that we are keeping alive the science of pattern cutting and draping.”