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How to follow a debut? For her second show, French designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski had grappled further with the codes of Hermès ready-to-wear and her understanding of it.
“Where to start? This was a very big collection. And there’s a lot to work with,” she told me backstage. She was talking, of course, about the 14métiers at her disposal, from the jewel-makers ready to make the enormous resin necklaces to the leather-makers who had finessed a more relaxed drop “H” bag.
This being ready-to-wear, though, Vanhee-Cybulski had decided then to make her research personal, and had found her emotional connection to the clothes by examining the sportier themes in the archive — especially those from the 1930s. For SS16 she had dressed down classic Hermès looks with a more dynamic spirit. Cue lots of sneakers.
“I thought about when you leave the gym and throw on a beautiful leather coat over your gym wear and with your gym shoes,” she said of her leisure-focused looks. A swimsuit as eveningwear? “Why not?!” Vanhee-Cybulski had paired an off-white and midnight one-piece with a long pleated waistcoat and “banana trousers” in cotton silk. And it worked. A sporty jumpsuit was transformed in chestnut smooth leather. Racer-back gowns were immaculate in pale double-faced linen — like the chicest of tennis dresses. Luxury and leisure: the ultimate expression of the moneyed elite.
There was another little side-note here: a silk pleat dress printed in the Hermès ex-libris scarf print and interspersed with suede. After the handwritten store-address prints at Lanvin and the logos at Loewe, I wondered if this was branding, Hermès-style? “I prefer not to use the word ‘branding’ about a house like Hermès,” said Vanhee-Cybulski with graceful understatement. “I prefer to say I am working with the icons of the house.”
For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on FT.com