The biggest takeaway from the recent Hermès Spring 2022 menswear show – that even the seemingly simplest item of clothing can be done in such an elegant manner that they can project more sophistication than a bespoke suit. And be far more comfortable.
Returning to the Mobilier National in Paris for the first time since 2019, the collection was embedded in the reality of menswear: relaxed, pleated trousers and Bermudas that are the benchmarks of a spring wardrobe; parkas and water-repellant jackets that looked so light they could still be comfortably worn during a steamy Australian November; and your prerequisite arsenal of shirts and cashmere knitwear. Throughout this was a thread of subtle nuances of print and fabrication that slowly revealed itself the longer you paid attention.
If there’s one thing that Hermès menswear designer Véronique Nichanian understands, it’s there is real beauty in the interplay between the subtle and the practical. Clearly, these standards lay at the core of Hermès’ DNA, where the functional informs the luxury of comfort, but Nichanian’s ability to bring them to life in ways that remain fresh is a rare skill. Part of this is the way she incorporates a seasonal palette, less like a trend and more like a coup de foudre with its striking flashes of colour which, after a year of being cooped up, took their inspiration from the vibrancy of the natural world – algae, chocolate, hemp and a striking celadon green . But it’s also in the light touch that she applies to the fabrication of the clothing as well.
In keeping with the name of the collection, Double-Jeu (meaning Double Game, something that can indicate a certain duplicitousness or duality), a major proportion of the collection was designed to be reversible with interchanging colourways to create vibrant inner layers. This idea of dual natures was a constant theme throughout the collection that, sadly over Zoom and even with the close-ups cleverly projected onto the large screens that lined the runway, remained hidden just below the surface of first glance (although you could say this too was consistent with the theme): three dimensional renderings of the maison’s iconic Mors et Gourmettes; a perforated Hermès Quadrige equine relief. Underpinning the entire collection was a nautical sensibility – weatherproof anoraks, rope belts, zigzag stitching that mimicked the momentum of sailing. Intersecting the needs of day to day with details designed for time spent at leisure is an intelligent device, especially after a year of being denied such simple pleasures.
If the most important message that Nichanian wanted to deliver was that the greatest luxury for menswear is the delight and satisfaction of a collection that is entirely wearable, her job is done.