EVENING OF OPPOSITES. Hermès celebrated its latest fall/winter collection with a fashion show and party that was, quite literally, upside down
The aptly named Reverse Room
Late last September, French luxury fashion house Hermès descended on Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Ferry Terminal, which used to be an airport and has since been converted into a luxury cruise ship terminal, and turned the venue upside down—literally and figuratively, that is. The site was chosen by the brand to hold “Men Upside Down,” a party and show about “reversals, opposites, wider senses and senses of humor” where “everything blends and unites in this topsy-turvy celebration designed by Véronique Nichanian,” the artistic director of menswear for Hermès.
So, as the sun went down on the last weekend of September 2017, VIPS, socialites and influencers, along with representatives from various international media outlets, descended on the menswear bash for an evening of luxury fashion and lavish entertainment.
Hermès’ fall/winter 2017 collection on display
The Show and The Rooms
“Men Upside Down” kicked off with a fashion show featuring Hermès’ fall/winter 2017 collection, including ready-to-wear pieces and accessories. In a nutshell, there was a palpable rock ‘n’ roll influence throughout the collection, which was tempered by a romantic edge. At the event, Nichanian was heard using the term “rockmantic” to describe it.
In terms of fabrics, the collection was dominated by wool, cashmere, corduroy and velvet. These took shape as wool overcoats, velvet six-button jackets, belted trench coats with detachable sheepskin collars and turtleneck pullovers. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hermès fashion show without impressive footwear, and “Men Upside Down” certainly didn’t disappoint in this department. The buckled leather boots, in particular, appeared striking on their own.
Another striking moment from the show came when local Hong Kong celebrities joined the squad of models walking down the runway. Popular Canto-Pop lyricist Wyman Wong was among them, as was actor Michael Won. The crowd certainly showed their excitement at seeing these recognizable faces.
As the fashion show portion of “Men Upside Down” came to a close, it was time to explore the seven rooms. essentially, there were seven activities, art galleries and installations where attendees could immerse themselves into one of the many facets of Hermès.
The Men at Work room
1. Stay in Touch
As mentioned earlier, Hermès’ fall/winter 2017 collection focused a lot on fabrics and textures. When the collection was first unveiled at Paris Fashion Week, guests were given notes on the textures and fabrics featured in the clothes. The stay in touch room at “Men Upside Down” expanded that experience by displaying fabrics like cashmere along with hi-tech materials like technical rubberized lambskin against a clean interior. And, as the name of the room implies, guests could freely touch and feel the displays.
“It wouldn’t be a Hermès fashion show without impressive footwear, and ‘Men Upside Down’ certainly didn’t disappoint in this department”
2. Men at Work
Designed to look like a garage, this room is how artisans create the clothes and accessories you see on the runways. A lineup of Hermès bags are displayed in glass containers, which stand out against the (naturally) orange background. The men at work room also became a hotspot for selfie-taking as it features an upside down motorcycle. It certainly represented the night’s theme well.
3. Let’s Play
This is, hands down, the loudest and most enjoyable room at the venue, as it was basically an arcade, complete with air hockey and ping-pong tables, and even a line of arcade basketball machines. More importantly, however, the room was essentially covered in a dark blue color and embellished with the image of robotic spiders spinning their webs around equestrian objects. Fans of the brand would perhaps recognize this as “Flamboyant Web,” a design by Japanese artist Daisuke Nomura for Hermès’ fall/winter 2017 collection of silk scarves.
Models posing in the Reverse Room
4. On the Road
This is a room where childhood memories and adult indulgences meet. Put simply, the event organizers have erected a Hot Wheels-style racing track, complete with loops and four tracks. Participants can then race Hermès shoes put on top of wheeled platforms. On the road beautifully added a touch of old-school fun to the night’s festivities.
“The night’s celebrations … joyfully nudged attendees to look at things from different perspectives and marvel at playful distortions of symmetry and patterns”
5. Ti(m)e Bar
After the hustle and bustle of the other rooms, the Ti(m)e Bar offers a sanctuary for calm reflection. As the name implies, the room is themed around the passage of time. At the same time, it also comes with an intriguing display of Hermès ties against a background of horizontal lights. The use of high contrast lighting continued along the rest of the Ti(m)e Bar.
6. Full Mental Jackets
A simple jacket can tell an elaborate story. It can silently recite the history of its owners. or it can, as described in Hermès’ official release, “incite confidence and invite companionship.” Full mental Jackets showcases eight different jackets displayed in glass frames. Each jacket is different. One navy blue specimen is made using nubuck lambskin and has developed a shiny patina. Another straight-cut model has ribbing in khaki astrakhan. And of course, each jacket has its own tale to tell those who wander along the displays crowding Full Mental Jackets.
Inside the Hot Spot room
7. Hot Spot
Despite its name, Hot spot at “Men Upside Down” is anything but hot. But it certainly fits the fall/winter theme of the collection showcased that night. The igloo-like installation, however, offers the perfect background for guests who would like to have their photos taken while wearing Hermès coats. Those looking for an extra dose of warmth to brave the chill can find a selection of spirits and cocktails served inside.
In addition to the seven rooms mentioned above, there was also the reverse room, which was styled much like a personal library. The twist is that the room is upside down—which is only expected given that it’s at the venue of “Men Upside Down.” And it was also a given that guests were drawn there to take selfies and group photos with the uniquely whimsical backdrop.
A popular photo op in the Men at Work Room
The Kai Tak Ferry Terminal affords guests to “Men Upside Down” a splendid view across open expanse of the south China Sea and of Hong Kong’s majestic Victoria Harbor while they enjoy refreshments and various canapés. A live music performance by indie band Camp Claude also drew the attention of many attendees, while others stood mesmerized by Guinean soccer player Iya Traoré who showed off his arsenal of football tricks. all of these along with other performances and entertainment acts that took place all over the venue kept the festive spirit going well into the night.
Nichanian surrounded by guests
All in all, “Men Upside Down” presented a remarkable fashion show and a most enjoyable party. interestingly, in hindsight, the subtle threads connecting the two portions of the event become more apparent. Hermès’ collection for the fall/winter 2017 season is all about contrasts in volume, angles and proportions. It plays with asymmetry and different perspectives to create garments that feel just right. And these elements were also found in the night’s celebrations, which joyfully nudged attendees to look at otherwise mundane things from different perspectives and marvel at playful distortions of symmetry and patterns. in other words, for several magical hours, the world was turned upside down in the best possible way.
The Full Mental Jacket installation