Rethinking Heritage Under the Instagram Age

As Instagram culture has imposed globalized, youth-obsessed trends, age-old houses are encouraging a return to local know-how.

Sonia Rykiel Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

You know this just as well as I do: these days, the entire industry seems fixated on earning Millennial approval. Here’s what I hadn’t seen coming, though: a number of heritage houses have already moved past Instagram-friendly objects and are leaning towards a hybrid sense of elegance – targeting both the kids and their parents (in other words, the clientele and the 3.0 generation). Yes, Parisian chic is making a comeback –albeit redefined under a slightly more multicultural light.


Starting with Sonia Rykiel. The collection was unveiled in a Left Bank allée, recently named after the founder, and drew its inspiration from the latter’s sense of liberté. Julie de Libran, the current artistic director, explained she was delving into the timeless values of Gallic culture: “I believe in the women of Saint-Germain – I am one  of them… It’s about pleasure and leisure, the spirit of joie de vivre in the market and in the street.” How does this translate into clothing? Quite literally, in fact: by pairing, say, a stripy XXL overcoat and a see-through fishnet skirt; or by transforming a Breton sailor top into a floor-length dress. Those were worn with wide handbags adorned with laser cutouts, and filled with the vegetables – suggesting, one may think, a sense of duality, for a woman likely to stop at the local market after a night of dancing.

Givenchy Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photos by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

As for Givenchy, British creative director Clare Waight Keller mixed cultures from both sides of the pond, in a cliché-free manner. Neither Punk nor Nouvelle Vague, the collection quoted a Franglais-speaking femme, somewhere between Charlotte Rampling, Isabelle Huppert, and Edie Sedgwick. The silhouettes layered carrot-meets-cargo pants; slick, body-conscious Perfecto jackets; graphic, apparent bra detailing, all for a mash up of Savile Row tailoring and Haute Couture touches. Could this be a sartorial anti-Brexit manifesto?

Hermès Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

Last but not least, Hermès, under the helm of Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, avoided all obvious reference to athleisure despite its sporty history. Instead, the garments seemed to encourage a focus back onto the clothes. In what is one of her best collections to date, the designer presented slick tunics with sailor-esque nods, cords and knots in Hermès-orange; elevated neoprene tank tops were followed by delicate suede trench coats and slouchy leather suits with subtle overstitching. Timeless and hyper-contemporary, effortless and put together: the perilous line to walk was crossed smoothly, and proved there is life beyond the tyrannical rules of social media.