No matter the season, there is something familiar about Hermès’ menswear presentations — it helps, of course, that Véronique Nichanian, the artistic director for menswear, has overseen that particular métier within the house for three and a half decades. Hermès is also a family-owned house, with a reverence for history and identity and an understanding of the certain je ne sais quoi that makes Hermès special.
As in June of 2023, guests filled the Palais d’Iéna on Saturday afternoon in Paris, this time to see Nichanian’s vision for Hermès Fall-Winter 2024 menswear collection. Hermès is infused with an aura of effortless luxury and elegance, which trickles down even to those in attendance, with this season’s front row including a British trio made up of footballer Reece James, rapper and actor Kano, and actor Hope Ikpoku Jr.
It seemed natural, then, that Nichanian’s collection drew on codes of British dress, albeit done in the irreverent yet highly-considered way that has become something of a trademark of Hermès’ menswear collections under her watch. There were Prince of Wales checks and argyle sweaters, though the latter were de-centred, slightly supersized, and used to inject pops of colour. There was highly technical gum canvas which was used on jackets, coats and bucket hats — a reference, perhaps, to the ubiquitous rain of Britain. With their translucence, they made for incredible layering pieces. There were suits, both single and double breasted, that came with slim, straight-legged trousers that had a Mod-ish feel to them — doubly so when paired with sublime Chelsea boots which were rendered in crocodile and calfskin.
The star of the show — in this writer’s opinion, at least — were a series of pieces that looked to be crafted from horsehair: a racing jersey, a jacket and a suit. Upon closer inspection they were, in reality, made from polished calfskin and mohair canvas, inlaid with satin. They were the kind of pieces that you wanted to touch and run your hand over and, when you did, made you marvel at the savoir-faire and attention to detail of Hermès’ artisans.
The collection was rooted in a rich palette of greens, browns, greys and blues: basalt, anise, petroleum blue, crocus, pumpkin, peat. It was, in other words, earthy.
The beauty of Nichanian’s Hermès collections is that it is undeniably luxurious without being ostentatious or precious. It’s timeless and elegant and highly technical, while remaining eminently wearable. There’s a purposeful disheveled-ness in the way the clothes are cut and styled or, as the Maison puts it: engineered slippages. There are cuts and cutouts, pleats and double collars made from wool or double-faced leather and silk. There are sweaters and jackets and coats of different lengths. There are the sleek ankle boots and then the chunkier ones with a cold-looking metallic zipper down the back. There’s contrast and juxtaposition.
Together, Hermès Fall-Winter 2024 leaves you with the feeling that these are clothes that are meant to be layered or reversed or transformed. There’s interplay between the clothes, just like there’s interplay between the different métiers of Hermès. That’s what makes everything feel cohesive and familiar.
That’s what makes it decidedly Hermès.