Paris has suffered horribly from the downturn in tourist traffic post the Bataclan murders. And news of the Kim Kardashian jewel heist, which saw the reality star relieved of around £10m of jewels at gunpoint in the early hours of Monday, hasn’t helped the city’s reputation either.
Yet despite the battered climate, that most Parisian of houses, Hermès, is having a reasonably good year. According to a company report in September, the group’s consolidated revenues for the first half of 2016 were up 8 per cent to €2.4bn, with growth showing in every region (up 7 per cent, to €352.3m), in France alone. The house results were a rare positive within the current landscape, even though the success of the leather goods categories (up 16 per cent) masked a dip in sales of ready to wear and accessories, which was down two per cent.
Womenswear sales have been stronger within the wider category, but designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski has had to work in order to build on the momentum of her first two collections, which delivered greater growth. For SS17, she introduced a new idea: an evening dress. Vanhee-Cybulski has always advocated day wear on her catwalk, but here was a fuchsia apron dress in silk cigaline. It had flying panels and a racer back, and looked ready for a night on the red carpet. Another was offered in imperial yellow. The dresses were only a modest offering however, five in all, and some of them more sober in graphite and herringbone. For the most part the collection stuck to the sporty basics and functional fabrics of which Vanhee-Cybulski is so fond; a work jacket and polo dress in denim drill, jumpsuit styles in cotton satin and parachute parkas in beige.
There were other carry overs too. Vanhee-Cybulski’s fondness for pleating, splicing heritage prints between each fold, were here in long flowing skirts. There were naval themes — she loves a uniform — and some pretty summer leathers too, a primrose yellow jumpsuit with contrast overstitching stood out. As did a sailor dress in the same fuchsia calfskin.
As a female designer, Vanhee-Cybulski designs clothes which reflect her own style. Trousers are wide and generous, the palette muted, the looks layered. Just occasionally, though, I would love her collections to have more grit about them. To shout just a tiny bit above their whispery decorum and quiet grace. In short, I’d like more fuchsia please.