ENERGETIC COMMITMENT TO A SPECIAL CONNECTION: HERMES’ FIRST RUNWAY IN NEW YORK

Last week, Manhattan’s lower eastside sparked with a French takeover: Parisian luxury house Hermès and its womenswear artistic director Nadège Vanhée presented the second chapter of the fall/winter 2024 collection.

Built on the designs shown in Paris last February, Vanhée created a very special dialogue between two cultures that, despite all their opposites, form a harmonic, vibrant mosaic speaking of history, tradition, but also big dreams and the freedom within curiosity. Vanhée’s modern take on French elegance marks her 10th anniversary at the house and a celebration of a successful decade after leaving New York for Paris as former The Row design director.

A proof that the vibrant power of the big apple is still stored in Vanhée’s creativity. It is a moody day in the vibrant, very hot, and humid Manhattan: The cloudy sky somehow perfects the mood inside the spacious hall of the Lower Eastside Pier 36: big yellow stoplights are hanging over the runway that is hiding an iconic “Manhattan Rocabar” cocktail bar behind big, orange curtains that will be dropping immediately after the show.

With her new collection, the 45 year-old designer wants to create an ode to the pace, energy, and timeless optimism of New York City that could hardly be of more contrast compared to luxuriously understated Paris. For that, Rocabar – originally the name of a striped horse rug, a rug à barres, as a Scottish saddler once called it – not only stays the iconic Hermès motif as it is but also symbolizes the joyful and sophisticated collaboration across cultures and langages. Vibrant colors such as vermilion red, ginger yellow, viridian green, modern silhouettes, and beautiful textures shape the contemporary spirit of Vanhée’s new collection: leather jumpsuits, double-breasted cocoon-like pea coats (Vanhée always wanted to turn the coat into something as relevant as the Birkin bag), stunning wool knits are being presented differently this time. An extraordinary modern styling that, among others, shows silk scarves as belts around leather jumpsuits and plays with lots of layering creates a new feeling of a woman that embraces her elegant power in amore free and playful way.

This is also enhanced by a strong casting: size diversity takes its place in the refreshing dialog as well: both Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve are walking the show. Whereas Vanhée has gone for a very sexy approach for her chapter 1 that pays homage to horses and motorbikes, this collection rather feels like a fresh, curious, and almost liberating exploration of beauty. It plays with traditional elements in a way that aspires to redefine self-expression in the most sophisticated way, modern yet nostalgic with its subtle 70s elements. Black leather mariner hats add another note to the looks too:in combination with mustard-yellow jackets and the gigantic Pier set, it almost feels cinematic. It is, so Vanhée, a “perfect blend between aFrench and an American girl.”

The horse and zip-up boots, but also the many many bags (some slung over the shoulders, others strapped around the waist, or elegantly held as a clutch, crouched in the model’s elbows), make you want to put your name on the order list right away but Hermès will leave us dreaming. Just recently, at a big dinner table, we were talking about aspiration and the concept of desire. How could we lose so much of it without even realizing? The more special and beautiful do feel our observations of brands and creative directors who have a healthy understanding of who they are, refusing to be distracted.

Strong roots, a clear DNA based on a long history of craftsmanship and the goal of working on the highest quality possible have helped the former New Yorker, now Parisienne to find her position and mission within the company.

After the show, musical performances by Rahill, Caroline Polachek and Honey Dijon delivered a perfect finishing of a night that mainly spoke about the rich dialogue of cultures, vibrant capitals and – as always – big big energies.

BEHIND THE SCENES: GMBH SS25

Photography by Miriam Marlene

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