Fashion and Beauty

Sophisticated Urbanity and the 'Man Birkin'

CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau - The Philippine Star
Sophisticated Urbanity and the 'Man Birkin'
Haute colors: Pops of pepper orange heated up Hermès men’s winter 2022 collection designed by Véronique Nichanian. Hermès’ flagship store in the Philippines is located at Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City.

After two long pandemic years, Hermès is back to business in all senses of the word. Last year the French luxury fashion house streamed a fashion film of their men’s autumn-winter collection online; last Saturday Hermès headlined once again at Paris Fashion Week. In front of a masked audience, artistic director of Hermès Men’s Universe Véronique Nichanian presented the men’s winter 2022 collection in a Left Bank show directed by frequent collaborator Cyril Teste.

The first model emerged onto a runway that had a definite Japanese vibe: tapestries with Japanese paintings hung from the walls, and Golden Bug’s Tokoyo No Kuni served as the pulsing soundtrack.

My first impression of the collection was that it’s more “mature” than last year but still youthful, aimed at the young professional going back to work. It’s also very urban and almost industrial, with the distressed grid patterns and oil-slick blacks of The Matrix.

Disciple of color Nichanian brought back the frost blues and yellow mustards from last year with pops of bright “coniferous, lettuce” green and “pepper” orange — a fluorescent version of Hermès’ signature shade — against a muted palette of pewter gray, dark brown and black — lots of black. (Unlike last year there was no Pantone color of the year, Very Peri, unless you count the one lilac shirt I saw.)

Shirts were Japanese-minimal, with origami-like draping and collars that folded beautifully around the neck. To accessorize sharply tailored suits, Hermès silk scarves were nonchalantly knotted at the collarbone. And almost all models sported a man-brooch: the Hermès heritage motif of anchor-chain link, or Chaine d’Ancre, in the form of a pin.

Jackets were in all lengths — long coats with wispy shearling collars, midi hoodies with that distressed urban look, and short varsity and bomber jackets that bore all of Nichanian’s favorite details: zippers galore, contrast piping, shiny croc finishes and large, off-kilter leather pockets.

The veteran menswear designer, who’s been with Hermès for 34 years, seems to prefer her pants tapered and cut or cuffed at the ankles — all the better to show off Hermès patent-leather boots and shoes that are solid and super-reflective, again with that oil-slick shine. (Last year there were lots of colorful sneakers; now it’s back to work, guys.)

Urban sophistication: The collection features a neutral palette of pewter gray, off-white and black, origami-like draping in the shirts, pants cuffed at the ankles and lots of Hermès leather.

Two styles of bag predominated and — hey, ladies — the new HAC bag looks like a black “Man Birkin” with masculine details like a silver motorcycle chain connecting to a front pocket, placed next to a diagonal zipper that’s not only cool visually but also practical in terms of storage. Just as men have coopted the OG Birkin in the past as a status symbol of luxury, wealth and taste, I can now see ladies vying to get their hands on the HAC.

The other bag style was a big, boxy tote crafted from black leather and largely free of external details.

Topping these ensembles off were bucket hats, one with that shiny croc texture that is sure to score the wearer some attention.

Hermès said this collection embodied Nichanian’s “heartfelt desire for oxymorons and sophistication.”  We’re not sure where the oxymorons come in, but it’s definitely all about Hermès heritage, craftsmanship and sophistication.

The must-have bag for men: The Hermès HAC bag.

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Hermès’ flagship store in the Philippines is located at Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City, tel. 7757-8910, open Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Follow the author on Instagram @theresejamoragarceau and Facebook (Therese Jamora-Garceau).


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