here is a quote sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, but it correctly belongs to Oscar Wilde: “I am easily satisfied with the best.” Gentlemen of considerable means and impeccable taste are occasionally starved for good clothing in our modern, designer-focused world. There is such an emphasis on vision and creativity, for good or ill, that it can sometimes be difficult for a man of distinction to find excellent clothes. Fortunately, the fine people at Hermés have been supplying practical goods to men of good taste since 1837. For this, their Spring and Summer collection for 2012, they continue that tradition, crafting a wardrobe that can easily fill a gentleman's closet. There are no tricks, no gimmicks, and no quirks- just fine clothes.
This is not to say that Hermés' offerings are boring. Designer Veronique Nichanian brings us a collection rife with strong style statements, but they are all eminently wearable. Light layers are heavily featured throughout the line; there is a frequent presence of Harrington jackets rendered in cotton and chambray, wisps of fabric that mostly block out the rain, while not making the wearer too hot in the summer sun. There is a similar prevalence of cardigans, and they are frequently worn without any undershirts, another nod to the rising temperatures of the season. We see a number of short pants, and these are particularly short, coming to mid-thigh in an echo of the short swim trunks from the 1950s. Where there is tailored clothing, it is cleanly cut, and paired with wool or cotton pants along with very light sweaters for a simple yet elegant look. Everything is tailored for a flattering fit, hugging the body but not squeezing it, crafting a muscular shape at some times, a looser silhouette at others- it changes in response to the nature of the wardrobe, the casualness or formality of the ensemble.
The collection is likewise diverse in its use of color, with no one color dominating. Yellow appears frequently, in bursts like a jacket or a pair of pants, but red has its moments as well- in some places it even takes over an outfit. Against these bright bursts of color, Ms. Nichanian does well to heavily include neutral shades like black, tan, and gray, which serve as fine backdrops across which the bright colors play. What is most important, in the colors and the styling and the tailoring, is that nothing is overly complicated. Nothing tries too hard, and there is no deep message to send. The Hermés man knows that quality is its own statement, and that if he can wear something that simply looks good, he will speak a language all his own.