Fashionably distant review: Hermès men’s spring/summer 2021 was a choreographed behind-the-scenes performance

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Welcome to the second half of 2020. And the beginning of a slate of fashion reviews for the spring/summer 2021 season, all done from the comfort (and socially responsible distance) of our home workstations. We won’t be able to experience all the fashion action in real life this season, but that’s not stopping us from analysing each collection and breaking down our favourite looks and accessories.

As Paris Fashion Week is gearing up for its first digital edition, luxury maison Hermès kicked things off with a historic filmic performance. It’s ‘historic’ in a sense that this was Hermès’ first-ever foray into a format that’s a complete departure from its high-brow runway settings.

Conceptualised in collaboration with French director Cyril Teste, the men’s spring/summer 2021 presentation was filmed in the Hermès workshops in Pantin, Paris. It’s here that Teste’s expertise in choreographing a live filmic performance worked beautifully for a fashion presentation. Through specific and rehearsed camerawork, we’re able to see details that would have been entirely missed if Hermès were to merely live stream a runway show. Details such as the delicate and subtle inlaying of Hermès chain links on powdery blue cotton poplin, the deliberate textures on lightweight cream trousers, and the exceptional simplicity of an Hermès timepiece—all captured in fluid motion.

Artistic director of Hermès men’s universe, Véronique Nichanian, and Cyril Teste.

Sure, the seven-minute live film is an unrealistically calm depiction of the chaos that goes on backstage of any fashion presentation. But realism isn’t really the point here. Watching artistic director Véronique Nichanian making styling adjustments and co-directing the details that should be focused on, is quite a treat—it’s intimate, warm and joyous. At the heart of it, this format is true to what Hermès continuously focuses on: the journey in every aspect.

Look and feel: The spring/summer 2021 collection is one of lightness and simplicity with doses of casual elegance. It’s the usual Hermès fare that Nichanian has cemented as the core Hermès man look but more relaxed. And neon yellow brights up the fresh factor to the grounded palette of blues, creams and almond greens.

Favourite looks: The elegant raucousness of look 6 with that rich blue blouson (once again, topped off with the subtle Hermès chaîne d’ancre motif); quite Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name. And the simplicity but cleverly proportioned double-shirt layering in look 13. That is how you should layer your shirts—just enough to see the inner layer peaking through.

Favourite accessories: Hands down, it’s the Hermès Haut À Courroies bag (it’s the precursor to the famed Kelly and Birkin) as seen on look 15, that’s been fixed with a water bottle holder at the sides and extra compartments on the front. A hardier interpretation of a classic in canvas that’ll be great for travel. But also, let’s not forget about those extra-long canvas belts with H-buckles; utilitarian and chic.

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