Photography Filippo Fior. Images courtesy of Hermès. 

Hermès SS22 was a joyful celebration of craft

At an airfield on the outskirts of Paris, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski presented a collection inspired by the works of artist Flora Moscovici.

by Felix Petty
03 October 2021, 5:24pm

Photography Filippo Fior. Images courtesy of Hermès. 

For its SS22 show, Hermès whisked its invitees out of the city to Le Bourget airport. Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski said she wanted a space that was both “monumental and open-ended” — a giant hangar, that had been transformed by the paintings of Flora Moscovici, an artist she had discovered while walking past the Ministry of Culture. “Her way of using color to transform public spaces in Paris meshed perfectly with the thought processes my teams and I had been engaged in since the pandemic,” Nadège explained, “our aim being to renew the fashion show experience.”

It’s a difficult aim, but, now more than ever, we need to think and rethink the use and function of the fashion show — its meaning and its future. The reasoning that Nadège seemed to land on this season was that it should serve to showcase beauty — to exhibit the poetry of the clothes themselves, and their ability to take you out of yourself. Flora’s paintings – monumental works of deep shifting colour, rich with the hues of sunrise, sunset, earth and rust – were hugely important to this end.  These huge tableaux, nine by six metres each, formed a circle inside the space, moving and overlapping with each other to reveal peaks of the industrial space behind.

They formed an incredible backdrop for the collection, but the clothes also grew from them. “I tried to pictorially reproduce certain aspects of the collection’s fabrics,” Flora said. “the iridescence of a certain cloth, or on the contrary its glossy or satiny aspect.” The opening look seemed to emerge from the artworks; gold emanating from gold, studded leather, for example. The pieces radiated softness and comfort – the butteriest of camel brown leather, and weighty cottons and silks. Tough black aprons worn with nothing underneath added a frisson of sensuality, but it was, altogether, a delicate balancing act. Nothing overrode anything else, and every piece was imbued with a sense of casual ease that heightened the luxury of it all, the sense of craft and the work of the hand. 

Counterposing the quiet, sumptuous luxury of the clothes was the dramatic gesture of the finale. The door of the hangar opened onto the airport apron, and a plane flew past across the overcast Paris sky. A very literal runway moment, if you will.

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