Véronique Nichanian makes clothes for the man who thinks

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THE HISTORY OF 20th century menswear is essentially a gradual shift from formality to individuality and flexibility, as athletic silhouettes and versatile fabrics emerged to challenge suit – the de facto men’s uniform. across ages, cultures and professions for generations. For Nichanian, his course changed, in a decisive way, in May 1971, with the marriage in Saint-Tropez of Mick and Bianca Jagger. He was, she recalls, “the first guy to wear sneakers with a suit,” or at least the most photographed man to do so, pairing a wide-lapel white three-piece from Savile Row tailor Edward Sexton. with notable scuffs. tennis shoes. “Everyone was like, ‘It’s not stylish,’” she recalls. But for Nichanian, who was then a teenager, it was an inspiring rejection of the status quo and confirmation that ease and personality were the way of the future. “That kind of attitude, not being conservative, expressing something different,” resonated with her, she says, and it continued to influence the way she made clothes. She never produced any collections that could truly qualify as sportswear like so many brands have done in recent years. updating age-old couture codes, ensuring that his pieces never sacrifice pleasure for sophistication, or sophistication for pleasure. A trench coat can combine a classic fabric such as cotton canvas with an athletically inspired technical fabric, such as Hermès’ patented water-repellent, shiny Toilbright; a blazer with a formal silhouette can be reversible or have zipped pockets. Hers are pleasant clothes in the most literal and tactile sense: soft against the skin, adapted to practical needs and bodily whims. They’re designed not to impress an audience but to embrace their wearer with such sensibility, even such sensuality, that they can’t help but project confidence – and maybe even a little fishy. As Nichanian says, “clothes should be intimate”.

When we first spoke earlier in June on a video call, I asked her if she had any favorite details from her Spring 2021 collection. “I’m sorry,” she responded politely. , “But the details of the last collection are the collection. ”In other words, each garment is the product of a large number of creative decisions and refinements made each season over the course of months back and forth with textile factories across the country, artisans of Hermès workshops and the team of seven Nichanian men’s ready-to-wear designers -clothing workshop above the company’s store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré Everything is thought out and nothing is rushed. If a hem or button placket doesn’t match her vision, she will gently ask for it to be redone over and over again until it does. At the end of this process, a collection emerges. time to do great things, ”she said.“ I want to make my clothes beautifully, with the best fabrics and the best proportions. ”This commitment to integrity over speed is rare in the industry fashion, whose reach and momentum have grown exponentially ntielle over the past decade, for reasons that include the addition of resort and pre-fall collections (which Hermès does not present for men), increasingly international markets and the acceleration of social media from changing tastes. While most brands think in terms of the seasons, Hermès seems to perceive time on the scale of centuries. As a result, it has proven to be remarkably resistant to trends, privileging the skillful handling of exquisite materials over momentary cultural fluctuations – a philosophy more in line with that of a guild than a fashion house, and that puts emphasis on savvy workers (which is perhaps why Hermès designers tended to stay with the company not just for years, as is typically the case elsewhere, but for decades) . Indeed, Nichanian does not consider his work as a fashion creation but as the manufacture of objects. A garment designed for a certain contemporary look may become obsolete, but a finely crafted object whose design is informed by practicality and simplicity can become essential and cherished indefinitely. She compares a garment to the height of this ideal to a Teddy, or a child’s beloved blanket: a fundamentally non-disposable emotional totem, woven into the fabric of a lifetime.

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