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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

#SuzyPFW: Hermès — A Forward Canter

6 Октября 2015


Learning to ride a horse is a bumpy business. There is an awkward elevation on the trot - and then, slowly, miraculously, the human body is in tune with the animal as they gallop away together.

Creating a fashion show is not so dissimilar, especially if you are working for Hermès, the most elegant and the most horsey of brands. Start slowly and carefully, a gentle trot, canter — and off you go.


But that was then: when Hermès could retain its noble distance. It was before the internet and Instagram, which now dominates in photographs and videos of the shows.

In her second outing as Hermès designer, Nadège Vanhèe-Cybulski seemed, if not bold, much less timid with the heritage. And if she had turned the show around, starting where flame and tangerine played off in leather and silk, with the symbolic Hermès orange even for shoes, there might have been a sharp intake of fashion breaths, the inevitable forest of smartphones clicking and a round of applause.

But Nadège preferred to build up to the drama with a plain, flat start: ink-blue tailoring, a cut that she called 'H' (for Hermès) and variations on pleats. These opening outfits were sleek, sharp and worn Oh so correctly! with hose and high heels.


In her manifesto, the designer listed "unconstrained elegance, reformation of classics, a sports spirit and a strong femininity".

She also added "visual illusions" and "audacious mismatching", but that seemed an extravagant claim for white fabrics with thin black checks and an artful incursion as leather was treated with patterns, apparently of the famous Hermès Ex-Libris scarf prints.

In a smaller venue than a huge horse barn of the French Republican Guard, these subtle details would have been easier to see. Chunks of mineral jewellery like agate on wrist bangles and belts stood out in their size and solidity.


Faced with the hurdle of colour, the designer handled it boldly and well: a royal-blue silk pleated dress or a similar style in white tipped with blue. While a jumpsuit looked chic in tan with an orange leather bag.

The show galloped on to its end, through black-and-white geometric dresses. Then, finally, came the bold pieces in Seville-orange silk and burnt umber trousers. I could imagine those colours, and the orange leather that came after, at the start of the show — boxing the neutral shades in-between.

Fashion today has many hurdles. Hermès may be right to stand aside from the digital imperative. The printed booklet produced for the show was lavish in its information about fabrics and accessories. But maybe there was a need for a tug of the reins, a Whoa! to slow down to a gentle trot a collection that had so much to see and absorb. 


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