Designer Véronique Nichanian pressed all the Spring 2011 buttons with her collection for Hermès, from the incredible whiteness of the outfits that opened and closed the show to the incredible lightness of a coat, a jacket, and windbreaker cut from a material called "technical madras"—so fine it was almost sheer. Then there were the shorts, the sandals, the summer skins, and the requisite accent of intense color (here a green that Nichanian called mint, but was more emerald).

Hermès is the quiet storm of the luxury world, but rather than resting on her platinum laurels Nichanian has steadily loosened the stays of heritage. This season, she introduced vêtements hybrids, or hybrid clothing, like the shirt with a blouson back, or a diagonal zip closing, or a hood. The same kind of relaxed spirit dictated notch lapels on her double-breasted jackets (a small detail, but it felt modern). The house is legendary for its skins, but the company's founders could hardly have imagined suede being used for a bright green T-shirt, a tobacco-colored camp shirt, or sand-toned pajamas. The emblematic Hermès horse bit, meanwhile, was printed in an impressionistic blur on a silk shirt. Again, that felt like the kind of update that wouldn't frighten the horses of the traditional clients, while it just might attract a new, younger customer, the juiciest prey on the luxury frontier. Nichanian has become a pro at balancing the two without, it seems, any compromise.