Five thoughts on Hermès' three-city autumn/winter 2021 runway show
It was a brilliant presentation in three acts for Hermès' autumn/winter 2021 womenswear collection. Spread across three cities, the collection was brought to life through choreographed pieces that kicked off in New York, before proceeding with the runway show in Paris, and then ending off with a different choreographed performance in Shanghai.
"The idea came from the fact that men and women can't travel. So the collection will travel," artistic director Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski explains in the collection's documentary short, Triptych by Sébastien Lifshitz.
But more than that, it was a way to showcase how the collection could work no matter where you are. And once travel becomes a possibility again, the Hermès autumn/winter 2021 collection is one to assist in that endeavour.
It was a range of fluid movements in New York
The performance in New York — choreographed by Madeline Hollander — was a non-stop showcase of synchronised movements that flowed seamlessly as the dancers moved around the space. Accompanying the performance were drapes (in Hermès orange, of course) that glided and ascended, framing the dancers and somewhat simulating the movements that they were engaged in. Highlighting the freedom of movement were the full, pleated skirts each dancer was wearing, making each twirl, strut, and swizel, that much more impactful.
The autumn/winter 2021 had a strong equestrian feel
Right off the bat, there were equestrian nuances imbued into the collection. And while they weren't obvious at all — there were no jockey's caps or anything that resembled riding trousers — they were unquestionable nods to Hermès' heritage. The cinched-in waists, piped details on purposefully roomy trousers, and leather accents on precious materials, gave off strong riding vibes but made more contemporary with Hermès leather mastery.
Rouge Hermès as accessories
Hermès foray into the makeup space began in early 2020 with Rouge Hermès, a line of lipsticks in cases designed by creative director of Hermès jewellery Pierre Hardy. For autumn/winter 2021, they're placed front and centre with leather complements that essentially turned them into accessories. The lipsticks were worn around the neck, housed in their very own leather lanyard cases. And what we're excited about, are the multifunctional cases (called the Hermèsway) that's designed to specifically fit one Rouge Hermès, a card slot, a slip for your phone, and a compartment for perhaps your AirPods — pretty much all you need on any given day.
There's another Birkin interpretation that's pretty mind-blowing
Not as though we need another reason to put the Hermès Birkin on a pedestal, the collection reintroduced the icon in a 'three-in-one' version. As the name suggests, the autumn/winter 2021 version of the Birkin has been designed with the capability to be used in three different ways. Use it like a traditional Birkin, an always-open tote bag, or even a clutch, thanks to the bag's interior pochette. Leather mastery at it's finest, no doubt about it.
Deft balancing acts and supportive movements in Shanghai
The literal trip-tych closed with a performance in Shanghai. Choreographed by Gu Jiani, it was a performance that felt representative of womenhood, especially in the world we're living in now. Balancing on boxes (once again, in Hermès orange) that were constantly being moved, performers acted with such calculated specificity that almost every movement seemed to be supported by fellow performers. There were suggestions that women should be supporting other women either by paving the way for them, or simply by aiding them as they make their own way through the world. It was powerful and what a way to end a womenswear collection created by a woman for women.