Hermès READY-TO-WEAR Fall 2023
Hermès was having a good hair day. Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s beautiful, coppery red mane had grown out during the winter, but she’d woken up and decided to cut it all off. She did it herself, saying, “I just wrapped a band around it.” She got a bob and looked fantastic as she strolled through the dressing room. The images might not reveal the collection’s subtle sophistication, but it was founded (pardon the pun) in her “tribute to hair, human hair. And its significance as a feminine quality.”
She alluded, rather vaguely, that the head-to-toe colour scheme was inspired by the hair dye charts that line the shelves of drugstores everywhere and are instantly recognizable to any woman. The first outfit to hit the runway included a lurex sweater with a wave design worn over knee-length shorts that matched, with the model carrying a horse-hair clutch with a silver-embossed leather strap. An allusion to when Vanhee-Cybulski cut off her own ponytail, possibly.
It provided her with a useful foundation for thinking about different methods. The braid over the front of a sweater, the bulky scarves worn over the backs of coats and secured with chrome bands, and the intarsia shearling coat with waves all picked up on this theme.
Hermès, however, never uses a simple technique like a continuous plot line. The worth of garments, as well as the subtlety and practicality woven into the bags and accessories, are front and centre in Vanhee-Cybulski’s collection.
Everything from the beginning’s silky plissé beaded skirts to the end’s square-toed over-the-knee suede boots drew attention. The heels, which were fashioned after inverted horseshoe nails, were a stylish alternative to traditional stilettos. On a continuum that sustains the home’s informal outdoor-sporty culture in ingeniously upscale ways, Vanhee-Cybulski takes great pleasure in crafting these nuances. The technical quilted jacket is a prime example. It was reminiscent this season of a brown duvet-parka that was hooked up at the back with a shoulder chain. It unzipped into a fully functional sleeping bag. Among these styles was the traditional Birkin, made more practical for everyday use by adding detachable cross-body straps.
Vanhee-Cybulski did a wonderful job of articulating her process for extracting this type of cutting-edge design from tried-and-true conventional forms. They are stereotypes, she said, “possibly the most boring clothes on earth,” but she hoped to inject some unexpected originality into them. I hope to carry on the practice of striking a harmony between design and fabric. She said, “I mean, I’m definitely the first one saying that I love casual—but it’s also important that we keep alive the science of pattern cutting and draping.”