Monday 6th July

| BY Claudia Croft

Enter The Madness of Hermès Backstage With SS21 Menswear Film

How do you make a digital fashion show provoke emotion? Hermès answered that question, kicking off the virtual couture and menswear season with a digital show entitled Hors Champ, French for “Off Camera”. This was a show without an audience, which showed the viewers at home the controlled chaos of backstage. An elegant pun: can you call it backstage if there is no actual stage? In the soaring glass atrium of Hermès ateliers, we saw rails of clothes, assistants fussing and handsome boys taking selfies, listening to music, shooting lookbooks or being dressed, primped and finessed for a fashion show we will never witness.

“What goes on during those eight minutes that precede the presentation of one’s work to the public?” said designer Veronique Nichanian of her concept. She collaborated with the celebrated filmmaker Cyril Teste who choreographed an elaborate one-take shot, with the camera panning in and out on interactions and details (a watch strap, a neon H belt, the new fisherman’s sandals). What looked like controlled chaos was, in fact, a cinematic technique that requires precision, teamwork, rehearsal and exquisite timing. It was a smart move. Rather than film a live catwalk, they created an elegant cinematic set piece, that also allowed Nichianian to focus in on key messages in her collection. The camera lingers as she points to the leather strips inlaid into the rib of a knit. Hermès is all about the details (the house delivered a basket full of ice tea and black truffle crisps for editors to enjoy whilst watching from their laptops). And as for that emotion? Yes. The viewer, wowed by the elegance and lightness of the choreography, was rooting for them to get through the eight minutes without a stumble. They did it beautifully And we cheered from the sofa.

Photographs by Raffard Roussel.