(MENAFN -Arab News) FRENCHWOMAN Veronique Nichanian, the artistic director for Hermes, stands out in the fashion world as one of the only women to create mens styles.
That she has been doing it for 26 years is another rarity.
I always feel the same anxiety, she admitted ahead of her catwalk show Saturday in Paris. But the enthusiasm is always solid, she told AFP with a smile.
She says Hermess then boss Jean-Louis Dumas told her when he tapped her in 1988: Manage this like your little enterprise. You have carte blanche.
Nichanian was previously with Nino Cerruti, who had hired her straight out of design school.
The diminutive designer says she had to work harder and be determined as a woman in a mans world and was pretty proud of her longevity.
It was a pretty macho milieu and the men didnt expect a woman to tell them what to do, she recalls.
Nichanian came into the work by chance, at first. Then I discovered a rigour in mens fashion, as a person who is not a fan of unnecessary details.
The 50-something designer said she had wanted to work in fashion since she was an adolescent, noting that while her parents were not in the business they were very elegant people.
She described the discreet chic of her father of Armenian origin, and how her mother and grandmother had Hermes handbags and scarves.
The elegant brunette with sparkling eyes said she draws inspiration from myriad sources in the street... in what I read... at shows.
But with Hermes, whose sales of mens ready-to-wear enjoyed double-digit growth last year, its a continuing story.
While there are not radical changes from one show to the next, the wardrobe gets richer from collection to collection, she says.
Some cuts dont change at all, or only by millimeters.
And since Hermes clothes tend to be pricy, men will not stop wearing them after the season is up, she said.
Ive looked at collections from 20 years ago and a.m. ashamed of none of them... You could still wear them (today).
When Nichanian, who rose to artistic director for all of Hermess menswear in 2008, starts work on a new collection, she first considers the colors and the fabrics.
Because Hermes is a luxury house, we can afford the most beautiful materials whether from France, Italy or Japan, she said, describing her style as a blend of fabrics with attention to detail, as well as the line.