Hermes Spring 2017 Menswear Collection
Fashion’s invention soars when conjuring up synonyms to describe its colors. Hermès fittingly offers some of the most luxuriant: silex and baobab and Tyrian purple. Which, roughly speaking, means a flinty yellow-brown, a woody bark-brown, and the purple of Roman emperor’s robes. Hermès said it better.
If not obsessed, then Véronique Nichanian is certainly highly interested in the power of color. Her grandiose official title is artistic director of the Hermès Men’s Universe, but in actual fact her sphere of work is compact—the demands are very much similar season in and out, and color permits Nichanian to experiment in a manner materials could not permit. Hermès, after all, is a leather house, with a focus on influencing the wardrobe decisions of only the wealthiest. There’s an inherent conservatism to that economic strata of society, particularly when it comes to their clothes. They may hang an abstract painting on their wall, but they don’t want to wear one. That said, there’s something supremely satisfying about what Nichanian achieves at Hermès, which is never to reinvent the wheel but, rather, reupholster the carriage. Color is a primary tool, because while men may sniff at a strange fabric or an architectonic cut, you can possibly entice them into wearing a citrus yellow goatskin T-shirt, or at least injecting the color into a fine-gauge knit of accessory.
That limoncello, so sharp it was almost chartreuse, was the kicky punctuation for this latest statement in the well-rounded vocabulary of Nichanian’s Hermès, of easy bomber jackets and narrow trousers, papery overcoats and a set of overalls that will surely find a willing buyer. Perhaps so will the tie-dyed suede cardigans and silk knits, although they’re a trickier, happier sell.