In stores here this month, the latest edition of Hermes’s Hors-Serie capsule (the name is French for “special edition”) – aptly named Sleeping Beauty – can be said to be upcycling at its finest. Working with “precious leftovers” such as deadstock materials and fabrics from previous collections, artistic director of women’s wear Nadege Vanhee has dreamt up a concise, all-occasion wardrobe that highlights what this biennial capsule is all about: the transformative quality of age-old craftsmanship techniques.
Spencer silk jacquard jacket with glass beads, horn, and silk pom poms; and wool dress
While Hermes is not branding this 16-look collection as sustainable, its act of using existing materials and magicking them into quietly exquisite garments makes it arguably so – these are certainly pieces to treasure for the ages. Take the Spencer jacket (above) for example, which is made from silk jacquard with a hand stitched Cordeliere motif that first appeared in the brand’s Fall Winter 2019 collection and now updated with shimmering glass beads, polished horn and thread pom poms. The said tassels are the work of a passementerie artisan – someone who specialises in the art of making highly elaborate trimmings – using silk of various shades.
Silk and cotton crepe dress, and leather sandals
The dress above may look simple at first glance, but in fact features a delicately embellished chevron motif created using a net-like embroidery technique known as Luneville. Dating back to the early 19th century, the craft involves sewing beads in a chain stitch pattern on the reverse side of the fabric using a special hook and, in this case, was done by the sole atelier in the French town of Luneville (yes, that’s where it gets its name) that still practises it. According to Hermes, the beadwork took hundreds of hours to complete.
Cashmere shift dress with metal beads
Nope, this is no ordinary shift dress – there are no visible seams, for one. Like a larger-than-life jigsaw puzzle, it is the result of joining together individual pieces of double-faced cashmere using hand-cut openwork embroidery. Making it even more precious is a plastron along its V-shaped neckline that’s composed of galvanised metal bugle beads laid out in a pattern inspired by the mosaic tiles of Hermes’ Faubourg boutique in Paris. With the Hermes’ Hors-Serie capsule meant to create “a new language to bridge the gap between a couture heritage and the contemporary wardrobe,” expect pieces with a youthful, almost street edge too.
Silk jacquard halter top with glass beads, horn, and silk pom poms; matching skirt; and leather sandals
This halter top and matching pencil skirt ensemble (above) is a sensual-meets-sophisticated look that echoes the maison’s wildly received upcoming Spring Summer 2024 collection. Like the Spencer jacket, it’s been embroidered all-over in a cord-like pattern then decorated with glass beads, polished horn and pom poms by hand.
This gilet and matching mini-skirt (above) might channel biker chic elegance, but are in fact crafted from – get this – Hermes’ iconic silk scarves: Existing Projets Carre au Crayon silk squares were cut into ribbons then woven together with wool on a vintage loom.
Cotton and guipure organza dress and leather sandals
The guipure lace – a prized fabric in luxury that typically features floral patterns – on this dress (above) was created using leftover organza cut to resemble the reins, bits and bridles illustrated on the maison’s Le Mors a la Connetable scarf. Brilliant.
This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2024 Art Edition of FEMALE
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