calm assurance vs vibrant eclecticism
In the alternate reality in which we find ourselves, thanks to Covid 19, it’s reassuring to know that a steady sense of consistency remains at the historic house of Herms. It’s the oldest of all the luxury grande dames, founded in 1837, and if it suddenly announced, for example, a renegade new sportswear direction or Tiktok star as brand ambassador, we’d know we really were in the upside down. Thankfully, for its recent digital presentation, in lieu of the regular spring/summer show that usually takes place in June, Veronique Nichanian, artistic director of the house’s menswear,proved herself the steadiest of hands at the tiller.
The unanimous decision across the menswear spectrum is that, despite the current maelstrom and the travel difficulties, summer is very much on. Perhaps we need that sense of lightness and escapism all the more. The beauty of an Herms live show is seeing how the liquid silk shirts ripple in the soft evening breeze, how the blousons appear lighter than air, how the soft structure of the suits is so effortlessly highlighted in the movement.
The subtlety of Herms, which is precisely what makes it so sublime, is hard to decipher over live stream, but the message hermes beach bag replica
of quiet refinement was unmistakable.
Flyaway shirts in softest sage, drawstring linen trousers in stone, an unstructured cotton blazer in palest blue and white stripe, loose and shrugged on; the muted tones and easy silhouettes are all part of Nichanian’s sensitive calling card. The Herms menswear customer might be part of the top 0.1 percent, but he’d rather sell his tech behemoth share portfolio than show it. And while showiness isn’t in the Nichanian playbook, playfulness is; see the silk shirts with depictions of horses dashed out in artistic scribbles, and shots of electric neon amidst the sedate tones.
And for his first digital foray for the house, Van Assche teamed up with experimental LA ceramicist Brian Rochefort. Where Nichanian created a soothing palate cleanser, Van Assche went for a full on sensory assault.
Rochefort’s amorphous shapes bubbling organic blobs, oozing splodges and amoeba like forms as seen under a microscope (how apt) were applied to knitwear and shirting. The jagged spikes of some exotic plant wended their way across the torso of a shirt, interspersed with dripping lava, while the plain black leather of one of Berluti’s classic Oxfords gave way to a lattice of golden swirls. After four months of lockdown stagnation, the bold maximalism of it all was a visual wake up call.
Will it chime with the traditional Berluti customer who heads to the storied house for its handsome leathers? Absolutely not. But there’s plenty for him in store, as well as suiting in a more fluid, softer silhouette. And for the new Gen Z clients that Van Assche is now courting, these splashy pieces are the vivid content their instagram accounts have been crying out for these last few months.