Hermes AW21 – a dance of toughness and tenderness

Hermes aw21

The three-part Hermès AW21 ‘show’ started in New York with a dance performance choreographed by Madeline Hollander. Impeccably scheduled, the live stream began with dancers sporting identical uniforms of turtleneck, pleated midi skirt and tall boots, performing elegantly rhythmic sequences and gestures expressing the heartbeat of “how New Yorkers move through the city”.

The live broadcast switched seamlessly to Paris, where we watched a runway show of models weaving amongst towers of orange cylindrical boxes, followed by a third act, live from Shanghai, choreographed by Gu Jiani. This time, agile acrobatics symbolised the toughness and tenderness of the bizarre global experience we’ve been collectively living through.

The clothes? A representation of shelter, comfort and protection combined with finesse, movement and sensuality. I’ve been nailing the shelter, comfort and protection this last year with my rotation of knits and technical puffer-wear, but the sensual movement component has been sadly lacking. I found it here though, in the curved trouser silhouette teamed with stack heeled boots; beautiful rich dark denim; utility outerwear edged with leather, and an abundance of blanket styling executed with a light hand. (Note: this blanket motif is a big recurring AW21 theme.)

Hermes aw21

On the accessory front, there wasn’t much in the way of scarves, besides the silk carré panel stitched into this fabulous bomber (below). A missed trick I think, but I’m personally inspired by Linda V Wright to bust out a few of my silks right now to soften my post-winter utility-wear. I liked the key fobs and ‘kiss holder’ lipstick cases worn as lanyards though, and the new compact Hermèsway bag with neat compartments for cards, phone and lipstick. Hermès has gone large on beauty lately of course, with its new blushers and even a special blusher case.

Hermes aw21 by Gaspar Ruiz Lindberg

In other Hermès accessory news, it’s all about the luxury non-leather bag. BOF revealed last week that Hermès is joining the ranks of brands exploring options in non-skin luxury materials. It’s partnering with MycoWorks, a California start-up that has developed a process to turn mushroom fibre into a leather-esque material called Sylvania. Later this year we’ll see the launch of the Hermès Victoria travel bag fashioned from a combo of Sylvania plus canvas and calfskin.

Gen Y and Z consumers are increasingly squeamish about animal products and don’t hesitate to vote with their (‘vegan leather’) wallets. Brands have no choice but to respond. Are these new plant-derived ‘skins’ as hardwearing as leather? Not yet, no. But it makes sense to get on board to help innovate in the sector and bring the technical developments up to speed. Watch this space.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
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