One of her closest friends, the painter Whitney Bedford, who lives in Los Angeles, has witnessed how Vanhée-Cybulski can be intimidating at first, but then slowly reveals herself. “She’s such an elegant lady, and at the same time there is this side of her that is totally punk,” Bedford says. “You should see her at a Guns N’ Roses concert. ” Bedford recalls a particular New Year’s Eve party when Vanhée-Cybulski was living in New York, where the designer was “full-on doing the worm and somehow sprained her leg.
She had to go back to work at the Row and explain to the staff how she had injured herself. ” On another occasion, Bedford took her to Venice Beach for sunset cocktails and recalls how Vanhée-Cybulski, then at Maison Martin Margiela, lit up when she saw the chintzy merchandise all along the boardwalk. “She spent her last $200 on all of this crap, buying up seashell bikinis and sunglasses, and sure enough, two seasons later, it all came out in this beautiful cashmere collection,” she says. “The thing about Nadège is that when she gets into something, she really gets into it.
Who would not be charmed? “At Hermès they like to have people with strong personalities and a bit of quirkiness,” she says, “and people who also have a strong principle of respect. ” Vanhée-Cybulski says she has always admired the simplicity of the tote’s design, so a friend from New York sent the bag as a gift, along with one with longer straps for Peter, and an even larger one for Enid to carry someday. Vanhée-Cybulski did not want them monogrammed, as that would have spoiled the clean lines.
Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, the creative director for women’s ready-to-wear at Hermès, in the living room of the Paris apartment she shares with her husband, Peter Cybulski, and their daughter, Enid.
I thought, How can I make a clear vision with such history and heritage? What do I do? What do I leave? What do I take? ” Vanhée-Cybulski is now known for her intensive research, which often includes references to artists and furniture design. “I love Nadège’s work ethic as much as the person she is,” says the stylist Melanie Ward, who consults on the house’s shows. “She is always curious and open-minded.
Months earlier, while Vanhée-Cybulski and her husband, Peter Cybulski, were discussing ideas for baby names, she mentioned a book she had been reading about Enid Marx, the pioneering textile designer who created the bold geometric patterns seen on the heavy moquette seat covers in the London Underground from the 1930s to the ’60s.
Vanhée-Cybulski says she was thinking about the pureness of craftsmanship and the soft, tactile aspect of the finished product. “I still believe the Hermès woman is seen as a vestal, or someone who is not necessarily associated with sensuality,” she says.
Throughout her career, for a few years each at Maison Martin Margiela and at Celine under Phoebe Philo, then as the design director for Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s the Row, in New York, Vanhée-Cybulski has been associated with a cult of designers who generally believe that attention is tacky and that their work should speak for itself.