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The essence of Hermes

By Rebecca Lowthorpe

The model Maria Carla Boscono opened the Hermes show, a (luxury cashmere) horse blanket thrown over one shoulder, a white shirt, below knee skirt and high chunky heeled shoes fastened with a small saddle buckle. She looked every inch like Modern Hermes Woman, that is to say like the Hermes Woman you might picture in your mind – a sophisticated thing with refined, quiet taste, always looks the essence of effortless French chic.

Cue Jane Birkin. The actress, who is a legend in France, arrived without an entourage, tousled hair, jeans, flat shoes, black coat and black Birkin – the bag named in her honour – in hand.

Hermes designer, Christopher Lemaire, showed his collection for the house at the Lycee Henri IV, a finishing school for French super-geeks before they gain entry to one of the French Grand Ecoles. This seemed only appropriate given that Lemaire’s collection had graduated, come of age.

He’d moved away from the Asian influences he so loves and the sporty references that are his roots and appeared to have drilled down into the roots of Hermes, the things that make it tick: a great trousersuit cut from the finest cashmere, a long black leather skirt, simple coats sometimes layered with cashmere over ponyskin, a really great pair of masculine pleat-front pants, a beautiful tan flying jacket, a thickly plaited knit, and for evening a slim-line tuxedo or a plain as plain can be long black dress with a slender panel of white from neck to shin.

It was a real departure for Lemaire, a really thoughtful look at who the Hermes customer is. It also recalled Martin Margiela’s tenure at the brand in subtle sophistication. Only this felt lighter, softer, younger, more sensuous perhaps? Most important, these were real, believable clothes for the modern Hermes Woman. It couldn’t have felt more right for now.

See all the Hermes AW13 catwalk looks

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