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HERMÈS: Women’s Fall-Winter 2021 Collection

Infused with radiant mystery, power, an aura, cavalières, if not Amazons, stride forth in the lines of this new collection. For some women, being stuck in a rut, remaining motionless, are purely abstract ideas, for they are all about movement. It is urgent now to live again, to venture forth into the unknown, to gain a new lease of life.  

This collection is an expression of the desire to explore the sensuality of new mythologies. The checkered pattern works like a painting that gets right to the point, with a gesture as pure and simple as adorning the human form with rectangles.  

Clothes as suitable for nightlife as for everyday life; opposites no longer opposed; contradictions fly out the window as classifications disappear into the play of fabrics and pleats. A clou Médor opens and closes a clasp; a suit is cut parka-style, ignoring the rules of tailoring. The padded anorak makes an appearance, and though there are pants, they are cycling pants.  

In counterpoint, trim such as one finds on cashmere blankets. And long jackets, coats and ponchos with integrated scarves supplying the protection one needs to feel strong, without ever hindering movement. Something to wear while taking the present in stride. 

The Maison Hermès offers us a manifest of art in its diverse forms. Reinventing the Runaway show into an exhibition of energies where Fashion gets back to the essential, a unique relation between creation, human and art of a world in continuous movement.   

How can we put on a fashion show in today’s world? When times are challenging, we must challenge our own habits. Let us feel free to connect with other cities, other cultures. Let us attempt to be creative together—albeit from a distance. Let us innovate. 

NEW YORK– PARIS – SHANGHAI, A PRESENTATION IN THREE ACTS 

More than a fashion show: a living performance, in three acts. At the heart of this three-part performance is a socially distanced Paris fashion show at the Garde Républicaine, broadcast live on various media. The “prologue” takes place not in Paris but in New York, at the Armory Show, where choreographer Madeline Hollander will start things off with a free interpretation of the movements gleaned from Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski’s collection. At the close of the Paris show it’ll be over to Shanghai, where dancers under the direction of choreographer Gu Jiani will conclude the triptych, injecting renewed energy and strength into the collection.   

The choreographers Madeline Hollander and Gu Jiani give this movement of life into clothes by interpretating dance masterpieces in three different cities: from New York to Paris, from Paris to Shanghai. We witness three different ways of breathing life into clothes through movement. 

MADELINE HOLLANDER 

For me, this project was also the opportunity to work with professional dancers, perpetual purveyors of grace through motion. Clothing plays an interesting role here, because when a model wears something it doesn’t move the same way as when a dancer wears it. Dancers bring something else to the table, perhaps something more ample… 

GU JIANI 

The movement interprets the clothing, not the other way around. This approach is in fact very different from my usual way of working; the outfit is almost never the starting point of a new creation. Which is why the first time Nadège and I spoke we discussed what was most important to us: the dialogue between clothing and dance. To find common interests and shared values.” 

NADÈGE VANHÉE-CYBULSKI 

“My collaboration with Gu Jiani was predicated on the physical, whereas Madeline’s approach is more theoretical: the conceptual basis of the project and its structure are in fact revealed in her work. She was the ideal partner for the opening. In retrospect, I realize that the difference of those two approaches inspired the collection as it was being made.” 

Three singularly different approaches, creating a sequence. What more satisfying way, in 2021, to inhabit the world together? 

“For me, this performance is not just about clothes or about a performance. The current situation has forced us to reinvent ourselves and the production process from the inside out: despite the crisis we must continue to collaborate and discover creative ways to leap over obstacles. New ways of functioning and performing will, I’m sure, emerge from these constraints.” MADELINE HOLLANDER 

DESIGN 

“When Gu Jiani decided to use the box as a theme— a universal object—it was both startling and intuitive, since the box is fundamental to Hermès. Our orange boxes have a long history; they are part and parcel of Hermès. It seemed appropriate to include them in the staging since they symbolize our identity. The history of these boxes is synonymous with the boldness but also the quality one associates with Hermès. Boldness means finding solutions and reinventing oneself using what is available, and building something beautiful despite the constraints of the moment—while reaffirming one’s creativity. Originally the boxes were white, but because of the scarcity of white paper during the war they changed, orange being the only readily available color. Thus orange became symbolic, and is now a kind of common denominator in this triptych.” NADÈGE VANHÉE-CYBULSKI 

SPACE 

“They say that New Yorkers walk 3.2 mph on average, and for me that speed is an inextinguishable source of inspiration. Nadège and I discussed “The Red Shoes”, a 1948 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, in which choreography is generated by the shoes, not the body, as well as the spell they cast on the dancer. What a fantastic idea! And that is what came to mind when I was asked for a choreography with clothes… how clothing influences our way of being, dancing, and moving. How clothing inspires the movements as if by magic… they become the choreographer.” MADELINE HOLLANDER 

INFLUENCES / CONVERGENCES 

“It was crucial for me to grasp that Nadège wanted a choreography steeped in Chinese tradition, in a certain culture of movement, and that she desired a true collaboration. She supplied a generous number of visual materials including her mood board, references and photos of the collection, so I was able to freely come up with ideas… and so we ventured forth together and forged a common interpretation of the clothing.” GU JIANI 

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