Hermès has, with little fanfare, continually positioned itself as a benchmark of luxury in its most pure form: elegant functionality. Clothing that drifts between the boundaries of casual, utilitarian and formal with an easiness that is breathtaking to behold. It’s been a signature that Véronique Nichanian, artistic director for the Hermès menswear universe, has continued to explore with each successive season and her most recent collection for Men’s Spring Summer 2023 blurs those boundaries even further.
Traditionally, summer collections are strategically leisure-oriented and so it is with Hermès. But rather than escape the energy of the city, Nichanian embraces its fluidity – turn the right corner and you can find yourself move from a bustling street and discover a secluded urban oasis. Where other designers in Paris this year turned to the garden or nature to inform their creations, Nichanian’s man is more flanêur than jardinier.
Pastel blousons with patchwork and pegasus detailing (as close to blatant branding or logo depiction as Hermès has ever had), a subtly-warped graphic that resembled tiles at the bottom of a pool and a literal woollen sun hinted at the seasonal purpose of the show. A seahorse appears on the breast of a tank top and shirting while lilac and turquoise coloured technical fabrics was used to brighten up functional anoraks and outerwear.
Much has been made of the blending of active elements and tailoring techniques that are informing menswear today but this has been a conversation that Nichanian has been having for more than 20 years. Formality is less about traditional structure and more about details – layered outerwear with tailored, flowing trousers; roll-kneck knitwear with shorts or a tank with cargo-inspired pants. Suiting may still be considered the couture of menswear, but the true luxury has always been to create a clothing that allows a seamless, more elegant style of living, perfectly suited to modern life.