Hermès has raced to the finish line this season, showcasing a bedazzling collection of garments that may have surpassed all of our expectations. Acclaimed for its neutral colour palette, earthy tones and signature orange hue, the house has taken an experimental approach to its newest womenswear collection – jumping onto the primary colours wheel. Creative director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski has fashioned a radical innovative style that is bright, bold and playful – taking inspiration from colourful horse jumping poles, which dominate the runway.

The clothing line thus pays homage to the brand’s beginnings in saddlery and fine equestrian leather goods, and despite no longer creating wrought harnesses and bridles, it retains its quality craftsmanship. There is little wonder then, that Hermès has long led the way in well-crafted, contemporary clothing.

In contrast to her usual celebration of minimalism, Vanhee-Cybulski was preoccupied with declaring “primary colours as a manifesto of purism” – which saw models grace the brilliant white runway in bright red, royal blue and imperial yellow garments.

Pared-down, sleek shapes materialised in these loud colours, which were subdued by white and black undertones. And as expected, patterns and prints were kept to a minimum – save for the maison’s playful take on its iconic prints, which exuded a sense of dynamism within the realm of the manège.

Reimagined through an urban lens, equestrian-inspired coats and jackets came in an array of fabrics, most notably calfskin leather and white cotton gabardine, which immediately transformed these classic silhouettes into modern pieces of outerwear with futuristic aura. Meanwhile, a varsity jacket with grained goatskin sleeves introduced a sporty look to the collection, with the proliferation of the polo neck jumper encouraging a laid-back elegance. Hermès certainly has a weakness for boxy silhouettes, but often gives way to more romantic additions such as knee-length dresses or skirts with sharp, fanciful flounces.

Much of Hermès’s mastery of modernity is down to the details. Models donned layers upon layers of textures and colours, such as the red aviator coat with its sheepskin collar and detachable quilted lining – worn over an off-white knit and trousers cinched by a blue belt. Particular attention was also paid to accessories.

A buttery-soft leather necklace or a silk foulard was occasionally inserted into the slits of a cashmere bodysuit collar, which added an understated elegance. And as always, generic leather details enhanced the construction and functionality of garments, especially that of outerwear. And the effect? A waistline accentuated by a calfskin belt, for instance.

Hermès’s AW20 collection was a sartorial sensation, striking the perfect balance between understated elegance and functionality. Vanhee-Cybulski should be praised for her creation of contemporary clothes that are simple yet ever so flattering – and occasionally experimental.

by Rhiannon Jenkins

IMAGES: Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION

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