Out of the Shadow of The Row and Into the Spotlight at Hermès

There is certainly a lot to look forward to this Paris Fashion Week. Alexis Martial and Adrian Caillaudaud will send their first collection for Carven down the runway on Thursday. John Galliano will show his first main collection for Maison Margiela on Friday. Guillaume Henry will make his debut at Nina Ricci on Saturday. And on Monday, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski will unveil her first collection for Hermès. Largely an hidden talent, Vanhee-Cybulski, 36, fills the womenswear director void left by Christophe Lemaire, who left the house to focus on his eponymous label. A week after that announcement came the unveiling of his successor, Ms. Vanhee-Cybulski. While most people have never heard Nadège’s name, she is arguably one of the industry’s best kept secrets as of late. (A calculated move on the part of Hermes, according to industry sources, which suggest that the appointment shows a shift in how brands are hiring now. Perhaps brands have been burnt by the fallout of the scandals attached to superstar designers such as John Galliano – these days, quieter designers such as Vanhee-Cybulski appeal over those who have a reputation that proceeds them).

Vanhee-Cybulski, a graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the famed design school that boasts graduates, including the Antwerp Six, Haider Ackermann, and Kris Van Assche, among others, has certainly been making a name for herself in the industry, albeit a low key one. Before taking up the position of design director at Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s award winning label, The Row, Vanhee-Cybulski did stints as senior designer at Céline under Phoebe Philo and at Maison Margiela - when it was still Maison Martin Margiela.

Given the wild success of The Row, both in terms of sales (you may recall their $39,000 backpack flew off shelves in 2011) and in terms of industry approval (the twin sister design duo has won a number of Council of Fashion Designers of America awards), and the luxury reputation that precedes Ms. Vanhee-Cybulski at Hermès, this will undoubtedly be one of the more anticipated shows of the week. Moreover, it will be very interesting to see her working outside of the shadow of the child star sisters and their much-talked about collection. Stay tuned …