Inspirations, Focus

By Laurence Benaïm

"Paradox as a line of force.” the Hermès Spring-Summer show programme sets the tone. In the minimalist clarity of the Palais d'Iéna, architect Auguste Perret's masterpiece, lines and materials respond to each other in what Véronique Nichanian calls a "play of shapes and counter-shapes, cuts and cut-outs.” The graphic spirit is there, enveloped in "sharp volumes" that give these pea coats, water-repellent cashmere jackets and cocoon coats the feeling that luxury is a manifesto: protection without weight. Extending tradition through innovation, the detail that stands out, whether a slanted "saddle pocket" or a shirt with a "surprise pleat.” In a skilful fade-in of khakis, basalt, petroleum anise, heather, crocus pumpkin, silex, brown and peat, black is expressed in a subtle palette of other tones.


Double-breasted coats, reversible teddy parkas and high-collared zip-up sweatshirts seem to flow seamlessly from the outside in to the inside out, with chameleon-like ease. The 'flannel deer' shows just how much skin is woven like fabric here, and how the fabric — Prince of Wales wool, compact cotton poplin — becomes one with each silhouette in the name of comfort, travel and the cross-over between the office and the countryside. In both rigour and suppleness, the useful and the beautiful merge. When night falls, it imposes no protocol; and the narrow trousers worn with neo-caps soften the very idea of invitation, radically breaking down anything that remotely betrays movement in the name of obligation. A prodigious lesson in allure.