Sunday 7th March

| BY Claudia Croft

Hermès: Ready-to-wear AW21

You could call it a fashion show, but it was more than that. Hermès’ Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski created a tri-continental, live, digital cultural experience. Her triptych concept saw the AW21 fashion show bookended by specially choreographed dance performances – first in New York, then in Shanghai, with the dancers wearing pieces from the collection. She described it as “our way of keeping a record of these extraordinary times where the situation demands more of us than a simple runway show.”

Her triptych idea was not a conventional fashion collaboration. The designer sent samples to each choreographer, who responded to the clothes with movement. Madeline Hollander based her piece on walking through New York, with her dancers forging ever forward around columns of curtains in Hermès orange. The Chinese choreographer Gu Jiani, created a series complex and powerful movements which expressed the cooperation necessary – but also the tension – in human dynamics.

Where there is trust there is also vulnerability. In between these two works came the fashion show, held in Paris, with a diverse, multi-generational cast of models, who Vanhée-Cybulski described as her “Amazons”: strident women, who reject the false luxury of standing still. “They are all about movement. It is urgent now to live again, to venture forth into the unknown, to gain a new lease of life… It’s a film about all of us and all the ways we can and must continue to reinvent ourselves.”

The designer dispensed with outmoded ideas of day or night, presenting dynamic pieces that could be worn anytime, anywhere. Formality is replaced by practicality in the shape of denim co-ords, parka-style suits and leather motorcycle trousers some with reflective stripes. Blanket coats and ponchos offered the comfort of enveloping fabrics. Leather tunics and trousers provided an outer layer of protection and toughness. It all expressed her desire to make clothes that allow women to feel strong as they move through life, unhindered.

Photography by Filippo Fior.