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Runway Inspiration: A Pastoral Meadow at the Hermès Show in Paris

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Runway Inspiration: A Pastoral Meadow at the Hermès Show in Paris

October 6, 2023

Far-flung fashion shows have become a notorious target for environmentalists, as they suck up almost incalculable resources for an eight-minute extravaganza of clothes and bags. But lately, houses have taken a more sustainable approach, opting for soothing and uplifting landscapes as backdrops that can have a second life post-show. Last year, British planting supremo Nigel Dunnett along with Alexandra Noble created an epic jungle for Zimmerman’s show at the Petit Palais in Paris, with many of the plants later relocated to the public gardens.

And earlier this week Hermès followed suit with an extraordinary meadow for, as the luxury brand called it,  “an impromptu picnic, unhurried chatter, birdsong,” at the spectacular Garde Republicaine in Paris. Masterminded by landscape designer Luciano Giubbilei and inspired by a Tuscan meadow, the design was planted over three days by Jonny Bruce and a team of gardeners, the billowing grasses created a pastoral runway and provided yet more evidence—if any were needed—of the beguiling, textural beauty of grasses.

Photography courtesy of Hermès.

Above: Eleven thousand plants were gathered by Hortus Loci (the Hampshire-based wholesale nursery that also coordinates and grows many plants for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show) from a handful of European growers and nurseries, including Valfredda, Jan Spruyt, Arno Rijnbeek and Kris Stevens.
Above: The dominant plant here is Deschampsia cespitosa, which flowers in midsummer and by this time of the year has sun-bleached stems and inflorescences. Planted en masse, it creates a golden haze. Dotted through were occasional clumps of Pennisetum and Miscanthus. Perennials including Gaura lindheimeri, Sanguisorba, Cosmos atrosanguineus (chocolate cosmos) added the lightest contrasts and mingled with the dark brown dots of seedheads or spires of Atriplex hortensis. The only green peppered through the space came from the stems of miscanthus or gaura.
Above: Amidst the Deschampsia meadow.
Above: Spikes of russet-toned Atriplex provide a subtle contrast in the grasses. After the show the plants were relocated to other projects.
Above: The realism of the set, which was planted in tiered sections around seating areas, was only enhanced by the insects emerging from the plants and the occasional cabbage white butterfly, as models, in a succession of looks in rich, neutral earthy colors so associated with the brand, strode through the set. Occasionally they carried an Hermès bag filled with an armful of grasses and flowers, as though freshly picked from the meadow.

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