2 posts tagged "Veronique Nichanian"
If Hermès has become a byword in and of itself for luxury, part credit goes to Véronique Nichanian, the house’s longtime menswear designer. Her colleagues on the women’s side—including Martin Margiela (1997-2003) and Jean Paul Gaultier (2003-2010)—have come and gone, but Nichanian has been at her post for some 21 years, during which time she’s injected a dose of levity into the house’s super-rich offerings and, over time, introduced the world’s first men’s-only Hermès boutique, on Madison Avenue, and a bespoke service that covers everything from suiting to shirting to knitwear. In New York last week to promote the personalized services at the 690 Madison store, Nichanian sat down with Style.com to talk history, longevity, luxury, and the only two bespoke commissions she’s ever turned down.
I hadn’t realized how many years you’ve been with Hermès—21, isn’t it?
Yes, I don’t count. Yes, it’s a long time, it’s a long story—a nice story. A love affair, almost. Still happy.
You’ve seen the menswear business change enormously in that time.
Oh, yes. The business is changing, and men generally speaking are changing.
How has that affected you?
It’s more fun. Everyone’s more interested in the men’s business, how men dress.
Do you feel like it’s changed the way you approach design?
Not at all. I’m still doing the same thing, the same approach, still considering in the same way the men’s universe and trying to propose things which are right for now—modern and exclusive at the same time.
How has the customer changed? You’re now dealing with a business that’s much more global than the one you entered into.
It’s a big business now. But generally speaking, that’s right that men are much more self-confident in the way they want to dress, and feel much more their own personality. They look at the magazines, of course, but they know themselves much more; they want to express their personalities. They’re less focused on having a suit to be serious. [They want] to have their own mix, to choose. They’re much more aware of what different [brand] names propose—different cut, different feelings, different philosophy. I think it’s a question of philosophy when you choose a house more than another one. Continue Reading “Niche Appeal: Two-Plus Decades Of Véronique Nichanian At Hermès” »
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.
To see all the photos from the Fall 2010 menswear shows, download our iPhone app here.