The audience reaction bordered on ecstatic today as Véronique Nichanian took her bow. That is well in keeping with the slow, steady, and complete way Hermès has seduced its audience. Why, the collection is even knocking on the door of top-ten-of-the-season territory with Nichanian's subtly sexy, completely contemporary take on masculine luxury.

There was a time when the last look in an Hermès show would probably be some bland dish of bon chic bon genre eveningwear clichés. Today, it was a navy flannel coat over navy shearling pants and a black cashmere sweater. It came mere minutes after a jumpsuit in black leather, and another in bronze shearling. The Hermès leather boys weren't quite hog-ridin' hell-raisers (earlier in the show, a biker jacket was offered in crocodile, in an icy shade called flint), but it's still a wild ride to see the world's foremost luxury label parade such items down its Paris catwalk. Hides are, of course, fundamental to the heritage of Hermès, so it wasn't really a surprise that the leather pieces in this collection were its strongest. But Nichanian also offered the trimmest tailoring. And, by the way: The Hermès man shall go tieless. The designer has all but made the open neck a signature of the house that the silk tie helped build.