PFW S/S '11 Report: Hermes

07 October 2010

The runway was covered in bark chippings and the plain black backdrop didn’t give anything away about Jean Paul Gaultier’s spectacular final show for Hermes. But as the black curtains opened, the scene behind it drew a collective gasp from the audience. The ceiling was hung with a dozen enormous crystal chandeliers above a dressage arena where eight horses with plaited manes and Hermes saddles were ranged in front of us by riders in white shirts and black jodhpurs.

As the models came out, the gleaming horses behind them were put through their choreographed paces. It was impossible at times to know where to look first: the collection or the chevaux? Equestrian style is at the heart of the house of Hermes which opened in 1837 as a saddlery and the metaphor of hacking jacket, jodhpur, stock and riding boot is never far for from the fashion collection.

But, after seven years at the creative helm, Jean Paul Gaultier decided to go boldface with the equestrian handwriting and delivered a wardrobe worthy of the sharpest and chicest gaucho on the pampas. Sort buckskin wrap shirts were styled with leather jodhpur pants slung with horse-bit belts. Nude leather strapless all-in-ones were worn over black cotton shirts and accessorised with basket-woven Kelly bags. Leather skirts were cut like blacksmiths' aprons. Harnesses of bridle leather cinched crisp cotton shirts. Biscuit suede duster coats and pants were worn with scarf printed silks.  And mannish tailoring looked ready to tango.

Next season a new designer, Christophe Lemaire, will take over at the creative helm. Jean Paul Gaultier’s last show will go down as one of fashion’s all time great moments.


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