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Can a thoughtful and sensitive designer for a famous and noble brand ignore the upheaval of demands and tastes of a new generation?

Or, to put it another way, can Hermès, which rose to fame with the quality of its saddles, gallop off in another direction away from the controversy around leather?ès has long since risen beyond its roots and developed to create its famous silk scarves (the Queen of England wears them), handbags (used by Princess Grace of Monaco) and many more lines which combine to produce an enviable brand heritage.

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The collection that creative director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski sent out for spring/summer 2020 was strong on leather – at a time when many of the world’s younger generation are uncomfortable with animal-derived products.

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Yet the collection in general was faultless for Hermès: clean, clear and simple in its play on aprons, as worn in stables. They are mannish, of course, but gave a frisson of sexuality worn with just the straps over bare flesh at the back.

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“I launched it when I arrived at the house – and we can now show something which is beautiful and perennial,” said the designer, who has just come back from maternity leave.

“I had a theme of craftsman and an idea of a workshop like Carl Auböck in Vienna,” she explained, referring to the fourth-generation modernist design company which is close in spirit to Hermès.

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You could not exactly call the show ‘minimal’ as in the 1990s. A better word would be ‘pure’ as the designer’s instinct is to pare away, focusing on a single silhouette and material.

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Whether she will be able to keep her eyes trained on continuing Hermès’s haute-quality leather remains to be seen.