It's March 2021 and this new Paris Fashion Week for Fall-Winter 2021-2022 is already - sadly - the sixth one to be presented in a digital format since March 2020. Fashion houses and labels have been doubling their efforts to offer striking video formats that not only tell a relevant story but also anchor their collections in a visual context consistent with their vision and identity. This Saturday, March 6th, 2021, Hermès, under the aegis of its artistic director Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, delivered one of the most accomplished productions. "I wanted us to keep a trace of this moment in time when the situation requires us to do more than a fashion show: a performance in three acts. Let it be a film and let it be signed by an author who understands the crossing of genres. Not a film about fashion, not a film about dance, but a film about us, and the way that we can still reinvent ourselves," explains the designer in the notes accompanying the video.
The 25-minute presentation of the Hermès fall-winter 2021-2022 collection is conceived as a vibrant show in three acts filmed between New York, Paris and Shanghai, with the famous Hermès orange as the background in minimalist settings lit by a warm light. A composition that not only satiates our need to travel but that also offers a cultural and creative exchange despite the distance. Another central issue in the designer's thinking this season is image: the place of women in society, and especially the recent changes made possible by the feminist struggle over recent years. "The idea is to give a voice to a sensuality that women would completely re-appropriate. For a long time, women's sensuality has been described, filmed, photographed and painted by men. The two choreographers we worked with here are both women. This isn’t a coincidence. We are living in a moment in time when women need to rediscover their narrative, to appropriate the terms of their sensuality, freed from stereotypes. It's a fantastic opportunity for women today as well as for fashion," adds Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski. Thus, the woman who has been artistic director of the illustrious French fashion house since 2014 - succeeding Martin Margiela, Jean Paul Gaultier and Christophe Lemaire and indeed the very the first woman to occupy this position - has taken up the issue of female gaze with all the discretion she is known and loved for.
Filmed at the Armory Show in New York, her video begins with choreography by the American Madeline Hollander, who explores the evolution of movement and body language in her work. For Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, this new performance by the dancer explores the relationship between the body and clothing, and the way in which wearing a garment influences our attitudes. "How clothing inspires a way of being, of dancing, of moving. How our body is commanded in its gestures by the garment, as if bewitched... It becomes the choreographer," says Madeline Hollander. The experience then continued in Paris with the fashion show filmed at the Garde Républicaine without an audience. "This collection is designed to explore new mythologies with sensuality," continues Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, "And the era is full of construction, there are so many uncharted territories that must be explored. Starting with the feminine, a notion that no longer means quite the same thing as it did a few years ago. Everything is moving so fast, and this is the signal that we can finally reinvent ourselves.”
The silhouettes that make up the Hermès fall-winter 2021-2022 collection fit perfectly into our daily lives. Both functional and refined, they liberate the body without inhibiting femininity. The first four looks, composed of trousers, jackets, skirts and coats, are presented in raw denim that loses its casualness and gains in elegance when presented in black leather. This is followed by black and white silhouettes, made up of twill trousers - in several shades throughout the collection - belted coats, a suede pencil skirt worn with a turtleneck under the open shirt of smocked dresses, one embroidered with beads and motifs and the other decorated with polka dots. The latter is found in carmine red, a deep hue that also dresses up an anorak-style jacket in wool gabardine and a trench coat in technical twill, both embellished with lambskin inserts. Suede and lambskin pieces, sometimes with fringes, are presented in a palette of earthy tones ranging from ochre to burgundy, marron glacé and cinnamon, notably knee-length dresses and skirts, along with multi-pocket jackets and coats. Finally, three beige and orangey-pink looks, including two diaphanous dresses, bring a softness and poetry before this collection concludes with three powerful silhouettes, all in black, both graphic and sensual.
The video ends with a performance filmed in Shanghai by the Chinese choreographer Gu Jiani, who gives us a performance bursting with strength and energy among orange painted boxes. Initially a decorative element, the object finally becomes the centre of the dancers' movement. In line with the thinking of her American colleague Madeline Hollander, Gu Jiani reflects on the role of clothing in movement in a context where it is the very inspiration for choreography and no longer a tool. "It’s the movement that must interpret the garment, not the garment that serves the movement. This is very different from the way I usually work, the costume is almost never the starting point of a new creation", explains the Chinese choreographer.