PARIS, France — An Hermès collection is one of those rare expressions of haute craftsmanship that can put a reviewer to the test. The superiority of the materials and the dexterity of the design execution are without question. But this can sometimes get lost on the catwalk, leaving one with the impression of having just seen a succession of perfectly simple, beautiful pieces — and nothing more.
Of course, the understatement of luxury so high it goes unnoticed is part of the charm of this revered French maison. Yet it can sometimes feel a little dry. It happened last season when the brand's ready-to-wear designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski made her debut. But for her sophomore outing, the designer managed to escape the same trap. Instead, the collection had a piercing, softly-precise charm and classicist aesthetic that made it feel very now. At the same time, Vanhee-Cybulski also managed to articulate what defines the Hermès woman — in command but never commanding, effortless and natural in both stilettos and sneakers.
Being a woman who designs for women, Vanhee-Cybulski has a unique grasp of luxurious minimalism. She has a warm, welcoming tone of voice. Running the gamut from graphic tailoring to flowing silks, the goings were positively varied. Largely due to the casting, this new Hermès looked much younger than it has in the past. Vanhee-Cybulski, however, appears to be working with a timeless, ageless agenda, which is a winning strategy for the French brand.