As Hermès celebrated its 180th anniversary this year, one thought the luxury brand would do a huge retrospective for its clientele.
Instead, it chose to charm and dazzle guests at a one-night-only engagement at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong.
Last month, a portion of the cavernous terminal served as the venue for a briskly paced fashion show featuring the Fall-Winter 2017 men’s collection.
After the show, guests spilled out into the game rooms, bars and various tableaux that had been constructed a couple of days in advance, and which would be dismantled the following morning.
At the al fresco area, there were more cocktails and food trucks and a series of performances, highlighted by a rousing concert by French pop group Camp Claude.
The event, dubbed “Men Upside Down,” showed how the venerable, family-owned luxury house knows how to party. There were even two hashtags ready: #MenUpsideDown and #HermesHomme.
Camp Claude’s catchy track “Hero” played on a loop at the show that had models and real people sharing the runway. Looks included leather jackets with fur-trimmed collars cut close to the body, zippered cardigans with cable knit details, and ribbed turtleneck sweaters. Models carried huge, structured totes made of leather and flannel, or wore oversized bum bags around their waists or slung across their chests, bandolier-style.
The collection had been shown earlier this year at Paris Fashion Week, but the inclusion of over a dozen local celebrities in Hong Kong had the audience cheering them on as they strutted down the runway.
Founded by Thierry Hermès in 1837, the brand has grown well beyond its reputation as a high quality saddler. In 1920, Emile Hermès, grandson of Thierry, introduced modern designs and luxurious clothes to the label.
Veronique Nichanian, men’s artistic director for Hermès, joined the brand in the late ’80s and has been in charge of the men’s line for 30 years. In an interview with regional lifestyle press a day before the event, she talked about designing for the brand and her love for well-worn things.
“I like to work with leather. Hermès is a leather house so it’s easy. Everything is possible in terms of sleek leather, print, mixing of fabrics,” Nichanian said. “Everyone wants to work with us so it’s quite nice.”
She said that what she does shouldn’t be considered as fashion: “I’m not doing fashion. I’m doing something with style. Season after season, I propose new clothes for men to put in their closets and mix with the clothes they already have.”
While other designers and design houses push new clothes and accessories season in and season out, Nichanian considers this a waste.
“I like the idea of keeping things a long time because they’re good quality,” she said. To prove her point, she asked friends to lend her their Hermès apparel designed five, 10 or 15 years ago when she was already on board. These scuffed leather or lambskin jackets were then placed in lighted frames and displayed at the event. Short notes accompanied each piece of clothing.
Of a jacket with ribbing in matte putty dipped lambskin, its owner humorously wrote: “This jacket has seen plenty of accidents, including splashes of red wine. I choose to wear it complete with all of its stains even with the (new) cigarette burn. In short, I value the beauty of wear and tear.”
The owner went on to narrate that after tossing the jacket into the washing machine (“delicate cycle, of course”) and hanging it up to dry on a coat hanger (“a little anxious, I admit”), it came out “better than ever!”
“I love that,” Nichanian said. “It just goes to show how well made things get better with age.”