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Hermès Finds Its New York Groove



On Thursday afternoon, Hermès artistic director Nadège Vanhée was getting ready to present part two of her Fall 2024 collection in downtown New York, after showing the first chapter in Paris in March. The venue was Pier 36, an empty warehouse space along the river on the Lower East Side, typically used for large-scale exhibitions and events. Vanhée was sequestered in a greenroom outfitted with an expensive-looking couch and chairs, and fruit platters too pretty to touch. Four hours before lights up on the runway, the space was a swirl of energy: Music thumped loudly overhead, the labyrinthian backstage was heavily trafficked by production teams, and some of the models, Paloma Elsesser and Karen Elson among them, were already in hair and makeup.

Dressed in a pair of buttery black leather pants and a tee, her copper hair cut short and slicked back, Vanhée—who comes off as a confident, quiet force—seemed genuinely excited to be back in New York. She lived in the city for three years when she was design director at the Row, and she visits as often as she can. “I realize every time I come here, it’s like a shot of vitamin D for me,” she told me. “I recharge, and then I go back to Paris to work. I get home and everyone tells me to calm down.” She added: “I think it’s the attitude here—it’s a spirit of trying and not being afraid to fail.”

Courtesy of Hermes

When Vanhée was designing the fall collection, she saw it split into two chapters, each representing a side of her personality and the energy of the two cities that she loves and has called home. “I think in Paris, it was all about resilience,” she said. “This one is more related to funkiness and lightness.”

For the New York stop on the collection’s journey, Vanhée was intentional about the styling, explaining that she really wanted to emphasize the real ways women can and do wear Hermès pieces in their everyday lives. “You combine your scarf with your necklaces, or you wear a necklace as an ankle bracelet,” she said. “It’s about freedom. You’re respectful of these beautiful pieces that you own, but you also can make them your own, experiment.” She added, “I really want to encourage women to express their creativity. Fashion should always be about celebrating singularity.”

It’s interesting to think about Hermès as a brand that encourages singularity. It has built a massive business on one-of-a-kind bags owned in bulk by the one percent. Hermès is one of the most recognizable labels on the planet, and its history is steeped in craft. For Vanhée, the challenge has always been about evolution, and how to successfully iron out the paradoxes that arise from combining singularity and mass luxury, which have long existed in the house codes.

Hours later, the runway was packed with well-heeled guests sipping champagne from coupes. Usher was there, looking as beautiful as ever, and so were several other celebs, but a lot of the front row was filled with the brand’s clientele, some in head-to-toe Hermès, some dressed casually in sneakers and jeans and carrying a custom Birkin or Kelly. The bags were their own stars of the show, resting on the laps of clients throughout the runway portion of the night. It was all a huge and slick production, with traffic lights hanging above the runway and a neon sign that read “Manhattan Rocabar”—the title of the collection and a nod to the name of a striped equestrian rug that became one of the house’s signature motifs over time.

hermes fall 2024

Courtesy of Hermes

A mix of hip-hop and techno blasted through the space as the first models started to make their way down the runway. There were the most delicious soft leather kick-pleat pants with a high waist and belted pilot suits worn slouchy and zipped open with the sleeves rolled up. Vanhée showed miniskirts and scarves and jackets worn tied around the waist. The palette was limited to punchy primary colors (similar to the traffic lights hanging overhead) and olive tones, and, in the spirit of the New York uniform, a ton of all-black-everything looks too. The collection felt decidedly sexier than past interpretations of the Hermès house codes. Vanhée said that “it’s really about a fierce girl who has the perfect blend between Paris and New York.”

These were clothes you could play around with in your everyday wardrobe. They felt cool and approachable, unstuffy and great to wear with whatever kind of bag you own, be it a python Birkin or a canvas tote. That’s the singular beauty of how women dress in New York, and it’s a sensibility Vanhée knows well, both personally and professionally.


Brooke Bobb is the fashion news director at Harper’s Bazaar, working across print and digital platforms. Previously, she was a senior content editor at Amazon Fashion, and worked at Vogue Runway as senior fashion news writer. 

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