“It was like living as a creative hermit because everyone was in their cocoon,” says Hermès’ creative director Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski when she started on the Autumn/Winter 2021 womenswear collection in the midst of the global lockdown. “There was no outside eye or opinion. You could go even deeper into your imagination.”
A triptych (a work of art that is divided into three sections) was thus born. In spite of a season where in-person events were still mired with restrictions, Hermès kept to its Paris Fashion Week tradition with a physical runway show. But the maison didn’t just livestream its Autumn/Winter 2021 womenswear presentation from the French fashion capital. The collection debuted in three parts, consecutively and live, from three different continents.
It opened with a dance performance in New York. Choreographed by Madeline Hollander and against a backdrop of Hermès orange drapes, the first act is a commentary of New Yorkers’ walking styles and how clothing (in this case, Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski’s) inspires movements. Seven minutes later, the spotlight shifted to Paris, where models navigated an obstacle course of a runway stacked with orange boxes. Closing the triptych was Gu Jiani’s conceptual piece in Shanghai, which fuses traditional Chinese dance and Western ballroom dancing. A documentary by French director Sébastien Lifshitz detailing the making of the entire project followed.
“I wanted this three-act performance to be our way of keeping a record of these extraordinary times where the situation demands more of us than a simple runway show,” Vanhée-Cybulski elaborates. “I wanted a film directed by an artist with a feel for the crossover of genres and disciplines. Not a film about fashion, nor about dance, but a film about us all and all the ways we can and must continue to reinvent ourselves.”
The strong Amazonian woman was an important reference for Vanhée-Cybulski. She talked about “resistance” and using fabrics that “were able to express shelter, comfort (and) protection without forgetting finesse, movement (and) sensuality.” In dark tailored denim, blanket ponchos, luxurious leather jackets and pants that sports reflective trims à la cycling gear, the models exude an aura of power and strength while exhibiting softness and femininity with flowy dresses in silk and mini pleats. There is a sense of urgency to be out and about – to move, to explore. The Autumn/Winter collection is a wanderlust fuel, with clothes that transitions seamlessly from day to night, at the same time deftly combining outdoor sensibility and indoor comfort. Essentially, clothing we want to wear all the time. Ahead, a shortlist of our favourite looks.
(Main and featured image: Sasha Arutyunova; courtesy of Hermès)