September 2 2014

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Paris Menswear: Luxe Life At Hermès, Dunhill


Creative director Kim Jones’s ambition for Dunhill is that it become the English Hermès. The fact both houses showed on the same day in Paris offered an opportunity to compare and contrast. Véronique Nichanian has perfected a casual, sensible luxury. Her signature look would probably be a cashmere V-neck (no shirt) under a jacket in some extravagant but muted animal skin (above). She stuck to that blueprint for Fall, but there was a quiet soulfulness to the collection, helped by the palette—also muted—of gray, navy, and earth tones.

At Dunhill, Jones had created a narrative for himself, with the story of company legend Clement Court who traveled overland from Paris to Japan in 1930 to work on the lacquered Namiki fountain pen, one of Dunhill’s most famous products. So Jones imagined clothes that would satisfy the demands of business, travel and leisure. And he was finally able to express to the fullest both sides of his design personality: his experience with tailoring and his facility with functional sportswear. Except, this time, there was Court’s story to provide a framework. So the suits were three-buttoned, sometimes three-piece, reflecting the thirties. A brown leather parka or a shearling flight jacket made me think of an indomitable English explorer. But there was no incongruous period feel. Jones kept it all light and easy, tucking suit pants into hiking socks, knocking the stuffing out of traditional fabrics. In the space of three seasons, he has also brought to Dunhill (pictured, below) the same instinct for casual luxury that Nichanian has.

The presentation was beautifully styled, but so tightly edited—a rapid-fire 30 looks—that I could have done with more, especially because Jones and his team have been applying themselves to some magical accessories. Some of them were very visible hanging from hiking belts, thanks to the tiger shagreen they were made from. Others, like the silk pocket squares printed with Court’s maps or drawings, or the stamped, addressed travel wallets (available for customizing with your own details), were tucked away.
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Photo: Monica Feudi; Andrew Thomas

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