Hermès lets L.A. know that ‘all you need is love’ and a Chinatown warehouse to have a fashion spectacle

Bob Chavez, president and chief executive of Hermès USA (standing left) and Hermès' men's artistic director Véronique Nichanian take a moment to chat with guests at the French luxury brand's Dwntwn Men fashion event in Chinatown on March 9.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Less than 72 hours after the final footfalls crossed the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week, they started up again in downtown Los Angeles, thanks to storied French luxury label Hermès, which presented its spring/summer 2017 men’s collection March 9 to a crowd of some 1,500 celebrity guests, stylists, social influencers, VIP customers and bold-faced names from L.A.’s creative community, some of whom could be spotted modeling the spring/summer looks in the show, including Commune co-founder Roman Alonso and Museum of Contemporary Art Director Philippe Vergne.

A reprise of the runway collection men’s artistic director Véronique Nichanian first showed in Paris in June, this one included lots of luxe, supple leather — jackets, trousers and even a cardigan sweater silhouette — as well as easy-wearing tailored pieces and light outerwear. Some of the standout pieces bore a fun tie-dye pattern, while others made a lasting impression thanks to the color — a shade of bright yellow that made its way onto varsity jackets, T-shirts, trousers, bags and a camouflage pattern that appeared to involve horses.

The show, which ended to the strains of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” was just the beginning of a full-on multimedia, multi-room, night-long happening Hermès dubbed Dwntwn Men that saw the Chinatown warehouse space divided into a half-dozen themed interactive spaces that guests wandered while snacking on ample trays of caviar, foie gras, oysters on the half shell and freely flowing Champagne.

At left, album sleeves showcase scarf prints in the "Shake Me Up!" room. At right, a neon cactus accessorizes the party space at Hermès' Dwntwn Men event.
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

The theme of each room was conveyed via slogans that had been incorporated into the décor. Created by graphic artist Anthony Burrill (a past collaborator with the brand), they included “Give the Joy Back,” which graced a room full of arcade games and basketball-toss machines; “Please Do Touch,” for a room that displayed materials used by the house — knits, leathers and the like — in museum-like frames; and “Shake Me Up!”, a semicircle-shaped room that looked like an old-school record store. (Only the album sleeves depicted silk scarf prints from past seasons with the name of the design, the designer and the season appearing on the album’s center label. A blue and white graph-paper-like design, “Quadrill’H” from the spring/summer 2006 collection was designed by Franck Mouteault, for example; and “Horse Power,” a black and white design consisting of tiny, emoji-like horses and cars was created by Gianpaolo Pagni.)

Roman Alonso, from left, Philippe Vergne, Kori Newkirk and Ari Taymor were among the local men who took a runway turn at Hermès' Dwntwn Men event in Chinatown.
(Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images left, far right and second from right, Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times second from left)

Among the notable members of the fashion flock spotted in the scrum were stylists Elizabeth Stewart, Jeanne Yang, Brad Goreski and George Kotsiopoulos; cashmere wunderkind Greg Chait; florist to the famous Eric Buterbaugh; Magasin co-owner Josh Peskowitz; and burlesque queen Dita Von Teese. In addition to Alonso and Vergne, L.A. movers and shakers hitting the Hermès runway for the event included Alma restaurant’s chef Ari Taymor, artist Kori Newkirk and architect Mark Lee.

After negotiating the series of immersive-experience rooms, party-goers found themselves spilling out into an open-air backyard-meets-patio-meet-concert space where the Cold War Kids would hold a mini-concert before the night’s end. Ringed with food trucks courtesy of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Petit Trois and Animal, the party space included neon cacti stashed in the shrubbery, a half-dozen blue klieg lights stabbing the inky black sky and a vintage-style light-up sign declaring, apropos of nothing, “It All Makes Sense.”

Despite the enthusiastic signage to the contrary, we’re not 100% sure it did all make sense. But, as a one-of-a-kind exercise in luxury-brand buzz-building, it could hardly have been more memorable.


For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.


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