Champagne and Donkey Kong at a Hermès Party in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — Hermès played host to a carnival-like evening of cocktails, runway looks and dancing on Thursday night at an industrial warehouse that lay just beyond the usual routes taken by the fashion crowd.
“Thanks to all of you and your GPS for being here with us,” Axel Dumas, Hermès chief executive, told the few hundred people who attended the esteemed brand’s first presentation of men’s wear on the West Coast in its 180-year history.
At the house’s runway show to introduce its fall 2017 men’s wear collection, held in Paris in January, the focus was very much on the clothes, which had a classic look. The Los Angeles event was something altogether different, and those attending were not part of the Los Angeles we are accustomed to seeing on screens at red carpet events or on reality shows.
West Coast fashion stalwarts like Josh Peskowitz and Greg Chait mingled with art honchos such as the gallerist Shaun Caley Regen and Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Men’s wear editors like Nick Sullivan of Esquire made the trip from New York.
Burberry, Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent have presented here in recent years, suggesting a westward tilt for the fashion industry, and Hermès was following suit with an event designed to embrace the city’s dazzling spirit.
After models wearing crisp knit polos, buttery leather pants and pieces from a new Hermès collection called Dwntwn Men made their way down a runway, the warehouse opened into a party space with separate chambers where guests could shoot baskets, try their luck at Donkey Kong and play D.J. by digging through the soundtracks of previous Hermès shows while sipping Champagne.
Out back, next to a taco stand, the band Cold War Kids rocked out against a backdrop of walls tagged with graffiti.
“The West Coast is an extraordinary place,” Véronique Nichanian, the Parisian artistic director of the Hermès Men’s Universe, said. “It has magnificent energy — with the music, with the technology, with contemporary art. It’s a place of the moment, where I’d like to be. With the spring 2017 collection that I presented last summer, I was speaking of levity, of optimism, and it fit perfectly with Los Angeles.”
While buzzy designers like Virgil Abloh and Gosha Rubchinskiy can introduce a shoe or sweatshirt and watch youngsters go nuts, the venerable Hermès approaches fashion in a more considered manner.
“There’s two different things we are always mixing,” Mr. Dumas said. “One is a house of tradition and craftsmanship, and the other one is not to take ourselves too seriously and to be whimsical. My uncle always used to say that at Hermès, we should always keep a child’s eyes. Not to be childish, but to keep this light way of seeing things.”
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