“Music has the power to influence people’s mood, just as fashion does.” How Hermès aims to strengthen the bond between silk and music

Following The Word Radio’s recent collaboration with Hermès Silk Mix during their 10-day pop up record store nestled in the heart of Brussels’ Châtelain/Kastelein area, we put a few questions to Paris-based Christophe Goineau, creative director of men’s silk at Hermès, and Thierry Planelle, artistic director from the music world who has composed the soundtracks for all of Hermès’ men’s ready-to-wear runway shows for the last fifteen years, to talk about fashion’s lasting love affair with music and how a shared passion culminated in the luxury house’s latest globe-trotting project, one sleeve and one scarf at a time. Make sure to check out the Special’s page to listen back to the Silk Mixes.

Christophe, alongside being the creative director of men’s silk at Hermès, you are also quite the music fan. How do you see music complementing your work as a creative director?

I think music has the power to influence people’s mood, just as fashion does. When we wear a garment that we like, we feel more self-confident. It makes us happier. Music has the same effect, but somehow with greater intensity – when we listen to it, it immediately changes our mindset. Here, with Silk Mix, what we’re really looking for is pleasure – the pleasure of listening to music, the pleasure of wearing a scarf. And we thought it could be interesting to connect silk to music. Music can remind you of certain moments in your life, just as how you can also get this feeling from a scarf that perhaps someone gave to you, or that you yourself gave to someone at a certain time in your life.

How do you and artistic director of the Hermès men’s universe Véronique Nichanian work together with music director Thierry Planelle in setting the musical tone for your work?

Véronique Nichanian shares my love for music, so we decided to start from this mutual passion to create Silk Mix. Thierry Planelle, an artistic director from the music world who’s already worked with Véronique for a while now, composing the soundtracks for all of the men’s ready-to-wear runway shows at Hermès for the last fifteen years, joined us in this adventure. This is how Véronique, Thierry and I decided to combine our mutual love and passion of music to showcase Hermès men’s silk collection in a different way. Because, at the end of the day, Silk Mix is a living place, the scene of unexpected encounters and surprises, based on a shared passion for music.

Thierry, as music director for Hermès, what is it you’re attempting to express through catwalk playlists?

I like the idea of being a sound designer and working with music as a material, with its emotions, energy and originality. I accompany the fashion shows with music, which means I must try to be in line with the spirit of the collection created by Véronique Nichanian, to find the right songs to illustrate the collection and make an elegant and innovative music mix that will translate the spirit of the collection and echo the Hermès men’s universe. Even though we’re repeating the same exercise every season, the results prove different each time because you have to constantly reinvent yourself, which is exciting.

Can you talk to us about the working process involved in concocting a collection’s playlist?

The inspiration has to come from the collection itself. Véronique Nichanian shows me the materials, explains the colours, the shapes and the details of the clothes, describes the silhouttes as well as the style of the man she has imagined. I write down keywords in a notebook which then guide my search for music. Quite the privileged moment of exchange and musical discoveries everytime, with the opening track often setting the tone and rhythm for the rest of the soundtrack.

Christophe, as you already mentioned, you’ve now launched with Véronique Silk Mix, an itinerant pop-up record store. Why was it important for Hermès to associate itself more explicitly with the music scene in general, and records in particular?

The pleasure of wearing a scarf or a tie can be the same as that of selecting a record: chosen to match one’s mood, the weather or even an encounter. As I’ve said, we love music, and when we looked at the scarf collection we thought some patterns could make a really nice record cover. It was an organic idea – it came about by chance. The main purpose of Silk Mix is to have a great time, to get together, have fun and party. Bottom line is, a record store is an incredible place with emotion wrapped inside its many cover sleeves.

At the end of the day, Silk Mix is a living place, the scene of unexpected encounters and surprises, based on a shared passion for music.

Can you describe the concept of Silk Mix in more detail?

Silk Mix is a temporary installation inspired by the atmosphere of a record store, a place that is all about browsing, listening and discovering. A place where men’s silk scarf artwork illustrates record sleeves and tie designs adorn cassette tape covers. Each record, or scarf, is linked to an extract from runway show soundtracks from the last eight years of men’s collections while each cassette, or tie, is accompanied by a track released in 2017. To give you an example, we’d take a design from 2010, go back to the music of that very same year and try to find the music that fits that design and patterns best.

More specifically, how do you see the Silk Mix concept reinforcing Hermès’ universe and values?

Hermès is a house which provides emotion through its objects and events, and these are the values that can be found in Silk Mix. It allows visitors to let their mind wander, drift into a state of reverie brought on by the images on the scarves passing through their hands. The experience is quite poetic: looking through records is very much akin to touching silk and being carried away by designs while music plays in the imagination. The idea is also to show the richness and the contemporaneity of Hermès’ men’s silk collections. This reimagined record store offers a vast collection of scarves and ties: some hanging on the walls, like records displayed on the picture rails of music stores, and others stacked deep in crates, LP-style. Finally, and maybe more importantly, Silk Mix’s intention is not commercial – we aren’t launching a new product here.

Thierry, one last question. Do you follow the Belgian music scene at all?

Brussels has one of the best recording studios in the world, the ICP studios in Ixelles/Elsene where I produced many albums. For me it is a true temple of music, one I go back to very often. Alongside that, musically I like Warhaus a lot, Maarten Devoldere’s new, elegant solo project.

Listen back to The Word Radio x Hermès Silk Mix.