A close-up view in an intimate setting of the details and the quality of the historic house
The Martin Margiela years at Hermès — from 1997-2003 — will be the subject of a future exhibition at the ModeMuseum in Antwerp, according to Pierre Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès and the son of the late Jean-Louis Dumas, the exceptional family CEO who brought the iconoclastic Belgian designer into the iconic French brand.
I thought back to those days and how Margiela, with his spare, clean cut designs, could never be persuaded to touch the great print heritage of the Hermès scarves.
At Hermès today, there are also no real patterns from designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, but they will surely come, because the current designer - in her fourth season — is moving forward — not with the gallop that might be expected from a company attached to the world of horses, but still at a fast trot.
Nadège's vision this season was colour, mainly delicate shades of a mauve-tinged pink on supple suede dresses or sporty separates.
Shown in a new, more intimate setting at La Garde Republicaine — in a narrow walkway encased by floaty white curtains — it was possible for the first time on her watch to see the work close-up.
That is essential to this house where the quality of the materials and their texture, as well as details of cut and drape, are important to understanding the focus of the collection.
Nadège, who had been tentative with colour in her three previous outings, now moved purposefully from the pinks to a blue, primrose yellow and even a vivid fuchsia - always for clothes that were not so much sporty as easy.
More subtle shades of colours were the greys and greens, while a step towards print came with a silk blouse with painterly streaks of pink and yellow, and also with black and white geometric lines which looked modern, but did not seem obviously part of the Hermès heritage.
"Colour is always important for me — used almost like a pigment," said the designer. "I would love to think about the purest form of colours. You really think about which fabric or material you are going to use, sometimes it’s very instinctive."
The designer seems to be inching forward, focusing on skills like patchwork leather. But why so few bags on the runway for a brand that owns the great classics? They were shown earlier this week in a separate display, but with all the space at La Garde Republicaine, why not have bags alongside the show?
And maybe, one day, when appropriate, a display of those iconic patterned scarves?