June 24, 2011 Paris
Nichanian's most relaxed season yet was defined early on by a double-breasted jacket in navy ramie worn over a tank top and drawstring pants in navy cotton poplin. At the other end of the show came navy-piped white piqué pj's paired with a black linen-wool canvas blend jacket. The only real clue that the designer was proposing this ensemble for summer nights was the fact it arrived almost last, where eveningwear traditionally sits. And yet, it looked as appropriate in context as a silk mohair tux.
If that sounds almost too basic to be true—or good—for a house with a reputation for luxury as formidable as Hermès, it's really testament to Nichanian's mastery of one of the real luxuries of contemporary life: a leisured attitude that implies all the time in the world. You can see and feel it in the casualness with which incredibly expensive materials are treated. But that's not "casual" as in "throwaway." The X factor in Nichanian's formula is elegant insouciance. But she never loses sight of the bottom line. As much as she has unstuffed the haute bourgeoisie world of Hermès, she knows that all the tank tops in the world can't hold a candle to an Hermès blouson in crocodile. And there is someone somewhere whose life will be made complete by the twenty-first-century cabana suit in petrol-blue suede.