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Hermes’ New Lived In Luxury

Godfrey Deeny
June 28th, 2009 @ 00:00 AM - Paris

If anything summed up the muffled mood of the economy it was the muted hues of the latest classic, yet faintly bohemian, Hermes menswear collection shown Saturday, June 27, in an ancient convent in central Paris.

Generally regarded as the finest made and classiest of all the ready-to-wear collections for men shown each season in Paris, Hermes took a new tack this season adding a faded gentility and lovingly worn charm to this consummately refined collection, albeit with a soupcon of hippie chic.

Hermes menswear designer Veronique Nichanian has always favored noble materials – and there was no shortage of them this season – but where once this collection was all about crisp finish, for Spring 2010 the message was that luxury should look a little lived in.

So, instead of the glossy and glorious bright silk shirts, we had muddied and washed out poplins and cottons where the house’s signature equestrian motifs were barely visible.

For quietly stated luxury, out came a remarkable paper thin calfskin trench coat in the color of the season – light gray putty – or double layers of semi-sheer cashmere cardigans, often without sleeves. But, rather than St Tropez or Portofino, next Easter’s destination of choice will be Ibiza or Mykonos, at least judging from the accessories – studded leather and chain wrist brands. Nichanian even wrapped a chain necklace around one fluffy haired model wearing a jacket and tie.

“Nonchalant elegance,” was Nichanian’s definition of this collection, staged with considerable understated panache in the Couvent des Cordeliers. The catwalk spiraled around the space like one of Hermes’ bridles; the runway was carefully compacted mud and the lighting - a clever selection of movie and photo shoot lights – created a charmingly quirky cinematic ambience.

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