This collection is finally ready to answer the question: What does Hermès mean today?
Artistic director for Hermès and designer for womenswear, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, has spoken this season, and she has done so fluently with the quiet vocabulary of Hermes – timelessness, inheritance, the restraint of true luxury.
Eschewing the experimentation of previous seasons, Vanhee-Cybulski delivers a finely-tuned collection that pares the 182-year-old French house’s aesthetics back to its first principles: modern classicism and incomparable craftsmanship. This is as close to a personal signature as she has come over her five-year tenure with Hermes.
A dream of buttery cream and leather tones punctuated with dark noir elements, her Fall/Winter 2019 collection exudes an unmistakable sense of discreet elegance and rigour. The expanse of sumptuous hand-tooled leather to create a signature texture and fabric-like wearability provides a luxurious backdrop to crisp utilitarian lines and restrained sensuality.
It’s details like the contoured seaming of a glossy calfskin shift dress that speaks volumes of the absolute relevance of Hermès today, in a throwaway fast-fashion universe. Braided, topstitched or quilted boutis-style, supple leather is worked like fabric on a trench coat, a jacket or a pencil skirt.
A jaunty equestrian aesthetic runs playfully through the collection with a jockey-inspired blouse featuring the Couvertures et Tenues de Jour scarf, and crisp riding jackets featuring stirrup-bar buckles, cockades and browbands. The long-sleeved printed silk T-shirts paired with nipped-in knee-length leather pencil skirts are particularly emotionally resonant for Vanhee-Cybulski whose mother’s Hermès scarf collection was the first she had ever seen and admired.
And then there is the outerwear – the ultimate definition of haute workmanship, extraordinary handmade garments that are tooled to last for generations. Think urban structured looks with double-face calfskin suede, studded with Clous de selle and Clous Médor. Or the sensual contrast between lacquered-heel pumps and an oversized utility down blanket coat in water-repellent calfskin, concealing a quilted lining – leather on the outside, goose feather on the inside.
Adjunct to a most coherent ready-to-wear collection, the range of luxe accessories is smart, glossy, structured and highly desirable. An unmistakable phosphorescent letter “H” rides high on a belt above chalk-white thigh boots – the much coveted Constance belt bag in smooth black or brown barenia leather. A jaunty new bag Simone is revealed – handheld like an old-fashioned book strap and tooled in black, saddle and navy leather.
In a fashion landscape shaped by the transience of seasonal trends, Vanhee-Cybulski’s Hermès remains steadfast to its enduring philosophy of inimitable quality and sophistication. Always speaking quietly above the din, the revered French fashion house continues to have much to say about classicism as a new lens for modern life.
Image credits: Runway images courtesy of Hermès, artwork by Curatedition. Hermès FW 2019 looks as worn on model Katie/Mannequin: Styling by Sharon Tulasidas, Photography by Wee Khim, Hair by Sean Ang, Make-up by Peter Khor.