Setting a debut for a new designer at Hermès inside the Manège des Célestins horse arena of the La Garde Républicaine in Paris was a pretty clear indicator that the first show for Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski was going to be digging into the roots of the house. For those of you who have been living on a desert island, Hermès got it started in 1837, providing harnesses and bridles for the carriage trade.
And while it still keeps a foot in that horsey world, these days Hermès has become the brand people go to when they want the best of the best, in terms of clothing, homewear, accessories…you name it. That is quite a tall order even for the most experienced designer.
But Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski came into the job with a pretty perfect pedigree. She started her career working at Maison Martin Margiela, had a stint at Celine, and was a key player in putting The Row on the fashion map almost overnight. Oh, and she is French; you can’t underestimate the importance of that little detail.
So suffice it to say, expectations were high on Monday afternoon when she unveiled her vision for Hermès.
Not surprisingly, leather played a key role in the equestrian-inspired collection. The designer worked it into a chic black and navy lambskin pairing on coats, jackets and two-tone striping on pants. An iconic carrés bandana print scarf was turned into a familiar silk top and matching skirt. Or alternatively, and more imaginatively, as a tone-on-tone shadow outline crafted out of silk jacquard. There were also the proverbial horse blanket coats. Other outerwear inspired by a quilted saddle pad had a bit more kick. While the minimalistic silk and cashmere knitwear garments were energized by their lemon yellow or tomato red monochrome color.
Vanhee-Cybulski played it safe. Took no risks. And as a result probably gave the august Hermès customer exactly what she wanted. The question remains, however: Does this designer want to court the daughters of those clients as well?