It was a struggle, at first, to envision how fashion month would look in the age of COVID. But for their Summer 2021 menswear collection, Hermès, with an assist from experimental French director, Cyril Teste, produced an 8 minute livestream that was equal parts cool, compelling, moving, lonely, and – in a way that only this maison can be – timeless.
Filmed in Pantin, a little outside of Paris, the presentation felt intimate by design, whooshing between “backstage” and “show” moments in a manner that resembled a carefully choreographed single take (it’s been said that designer Véronique Nichanian has been influenced by theatre during her time in lockdown). This intertwining of the polished and the “off-camera” felt welcome: we’re living in an age of forced vulnerability; opening our living rooms to video calls with colleagues and (rightly) wearing masks when we leave our homes. Hermès leaned into the moment, letting us see just a little more than we thought we might.
In an era that could be justly described as chaotic, Nichanian opted for simplicity and lightness. This was a summer envisioned in dusty, muted, soft colour: all pale blues, almond greens, various coastal-worthy shades of off-white, tied together by bursts of fluorescent yellow.
The silhouettes were just as carefree and handsome: wide-leg trousers with patch pockets puddling over soft leather sandals; palladium metal pendants hanging nonchalant over a collarless cotton poplin shirt, unbuttoned just so.
In the weeks leading up to these shows, many have speculated how the fashion industry can reckon the state of the world with their need to show-off new collections – how to express a vision without that vision feeling inherently tone-deaf. In eight short minutes, Hermès managed to remind us that taste is more than a design note – it’s a sensibility.
The Hermès Summer 2021 show can be re-streamed at hermes.com.