Hermes Charts New Course

For the first time in its history, Hermes is sailing ready-to-wear’s fashion tide with a woman at its helm. The French luxury fashion house Hermès named Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, 36, artistic director of women’s wear. Her appointment is the first big management move by Axel Dumas, a sixth-generation member of the Hermès family, which controls the closely held stock.

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Woman or man, it was high time the label infused some new blood into the brand as it had become to mundane and literally too beige, as every outfit in the last collection was colorless, shiftless and misshapen. If a woman is going to shell out thousands for an outfit, it needs to look like it and not look like she went shopping at a J. Jill outlet store.

STYLING CLASSIC CHIGNONS with GLITZ

To top off a series of “genteel ensembles” at her first Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Paris show for Hermès’, the designer sent out sophisticated updos:  French twists, chignons and pretty buns. Most of the hairstyles went unadorned, with the exception of this one, which paired the chignon with stoned embellishments. The pairing of midnight-blue suede and rose gold headband with diamonds and purple sapphires was striking, but not showy.

Ms. Vanhee-Cybulski has taken over the reigns from Christophe Lemaire, who had been the women’s wear artistic director since 2010. The appointment was long-past-due follow through on a statement that Dumas made this past June at the label’s annual shareholders’ meeting, that ready-to-wear would be among the major areas of expansion for the brand.

FINALLY, SOME COLOR!

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Though a fashion world insider, Vanhee-Cybulski is relatively an unknown. She had been design director of the fast-growing American brand the Row since 2011, and before that worked for Céline and Maison Martin Margiela, all brands known for understated luxury.

BACK IN BLACK? AND LEATHER. . .

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Dumas said in a statement. “Nadège’s talent and her creative track record will be great assets in the continued development of women’s ready-to-wear. She will devote herself full-time to our house.” At the time of the announcement, Hermès’ shares were down 0.8 percent, to 265 euros, or $356.80. Hermès’ shift highlights a newer trend in the fashion world between companies that seek a full-time commitment from a designer and those that allow a designer to split time between brands.

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The Hermès decision runs counter to other brands recently, but it is in keeping with the fact that Hermès has long had a full-time in-house designer of men’s ready-to-wear clothing, Véronique Nichanian. Vanhee-Cybulski will become the first woman to lead the brand’s women’s ready-to-wear business. Before Lemaire’s arrival, Hermès’ women’s wear line had been designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and, before him, by Martin Margiela — both of whom also maintained their own brands simultaneously. The fashion industry appeared to welcome the news. Franca Sozzani, the powerful editor in chief of Italian Vogue, cited the combination of Vanhee-Cybulski’s youth yet real experience as a strong combination.

Time will tell. Love, HauteAngel

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