To me, the Hermès’ SS17 collection was breath-taking. I might be biased as I say this because I have a real love for the iconic French brand, but it was incredible. You see, I am not easily swayed by Ready-To-Wear. I’m interested in RTW, because it is beautiful, usually functional clothing and all trends are embedded in that sector of fashion. On the other hand, I am rarely taken by a collection in a way that is all consuming. I do have the odd obsession with catwalks, but this collection was different. I found myself thinking about it quite a bit this time. I looked for better pictures and details and I kept watching it.
What struck me the most in this collection, was the return to the style of Productivist art. The clothes felt so French, but yet a tad Russian avant-garde constructivist: after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Lenin’s slogan “Art belongs to the people” became reality, and brought with it the precursor of contemporary design to adapt to the new way of life proposed by the day’s politics. During the early 1920’s, despite the more traditional and restricted expectations of women at this time in Imperial Russia, Productivist designers frequently exhibited produced work with functional purposes.
Indeed, artists who were interested in the ideological aspect of clothing were just as concerned about its functionality. There ensued a “utopian desire for a universal garment” for a lot of artists. For example, modernist artist László Moholy-Nagy, who ran the Bauhaus weaving workshop, only wore overalls from 1923 onwards, and steered his workshop towards standardisation and commercial success.
Fashion was simple, functional, and made en-masse for the masses. Obviously, that is not what Hermès stands for (I mean who are we kidding), but I am focusing more on the silhouette. Although, using Productivism as an inspiration would not be completely out of place at a time in which functionality and a sense of liberty are both craved by our society.
With this Hermès collection, I could clearly see the resemblance: fluid lines, simple but precise cuts, streamlined silhouettes, cinched waist, different volumes… There is even the use of geometrical prints, even though they are not as bright and evident as in older designs. Looking at images of fashion dating from the Productivist movement, it is easier to see the similarities (see gallery below).
Hermès might have designed the Productivist power-dressing of our time.