Hervé Léger returns to New York Fashion Week
Photo: Courtesy of Hervé Léger
Crossing Canal Street on my way to the Soho Grand during New York Fashion Week this month, I saw a crowd of colorful outfits surrounded by paparazzi and street photographers and thought to myself: Certainly not.
There was no way all of these people were, like me, on their way to see the new Hervé Léger collection – a name I haven’t spoken seriously in over a decade, since the days of class and 16 year olds. They must be waiting for some celebrity to stay at the hotel, I thought, or maybe something else was going on. But no. Turns out we were all there for the same reason: we heard that the certified “hot girl” brand we coveted as teenagers was making a comeback, and so we flocked there in droves, as if a bandage dress Bat- The signal had appeared in the sky.
Hervé Léger was founded in 1985 by designer Hervé Peugnet, who began his career under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld. As vogue Writer and vintage expert Liana Satenstein recently explained in an episode of The return, Peugnet, while working at Fendi, saw how the brand used strips of felt to construct its fur coats, and was inspired by this technique, knitting strips of stretch fabric together to create an effect ” bandage” close to the body for its own collection. (In a review, Times critic Amy Spindler called it a “sexy mummy look”.) When Peugnet went out on his own, Lagerfeld advised him to change his name so that Americans could pronounce it more easily, and Hervé Léger was born.
Although Peugnet sent other silhouettes to the catwalk, it was the bandage dress that became his legacy. Models like Cindy Crawford made it a hot item in the mid-’90s – so hot, in fact, that the brand was acquired by BCBG group Max Azria in 1998. (Peugnet left soon after.) This n It was when American celebrities like Lindsay Lohan started wearing bandage dresses on red carpets and in clubs in the early 2000s, making them the go-to “going out” look. In 2007, the brand was officially relaunched under Max Azria and debuted at New York Fashion Week the following year. The moment the bandage dress was worn in an episode of Gossip Girlevery aspiring Manhattan elite wanted to get in there.
“I think I wore a Hervé Léger dress to every event I had from 18 to 21,” actress Lea Michele said at the brand’s presentation this year. She also worked at a bar mitzvah dress shop in New Jersey and said she “definitely helped sell a few Hervé Léger dresses” there as well.
At a cost of over $500, the bandage dress in particular may be prohibitively expensive for adults, let alone teenagers, but its hefty price tag makes it a status item. I would have named my firstborn Hervé for the opportunity to wear one when I was in high school. Now, enough time has passed that used bandage dresses can be found on the RealReal for a fraction of the price, and as people are starting to go out again, the body-con is back in vogue. When the strategist polled 100 teens last year on what they were buying, the most popular style of top was a corset.
Over the past year, RealReal claims to have seen a 16% increase in the number of people buying Hervé Léger, with demand also picking up in 2022. In February, searches were up 119% over the same period last year, and purchases were up 67% in the first two weeks of the month, compared to the last two weeks of January.
“People are rebelling against the practical dress comfort that has been their uniform for the past few years,” said Noelle Sciacca, the company’s women’s editorial manager. “They dress in and out, opting for styles that are both bare and tight. Add to that the fact that iconic trends from the Y2K era are at the peak of their popularity.”
After its heyday in the early 2000s, the bandage dress went out of fashion along with trucker hats and low-rise jeans, and “going out” in general began to look more casual. In 2017, the BCBG Max Azria group effectively filed for bankruptcy and Hervé Léger was acquired by Authentic Brands, which also rightfully owns Juicy Couture and Aeropostale. Since then, the company has worked to bring the brand back to life, appointing designer Christian Juul Nielsen as creative director in 2018. His presentation during New York Fashion Week was its biggest to date.
“When Hervé Léger contacted me, I was intrigued because it was a brand with a story,” Nielsen told The Cut. “How do I update that? How do I go in and take something that’s almost classic and make it something new?”
First, he started by consulting the archives. ’90s photos of Karen Mulder, Helena Christensen and, of course, Cindy Crawford were all over her mood board. “That’s really what I said yes to, because I can see that kind of style is relevant again – that style of mid-’90s miniskirts and healthy beautiful girls,” he said. -he declares.
But he also wanted to update the brand’s “sexy mummy” thing by using different fabrics and introducing new silhouettes. Some of the fall bandage-style looks, for example, were made with mohair instead of a viscose blend, which gives them a more comfortable and luxurious feel. He also used nylon fringe, which also allows for more movement than the traditional bandage dress.
“When I work, I try to think about girls I know, girls I hang out with and socialize with,” Nielsen explained. “I think about what they like to wear when they go out. Girls love bangs! It’s fun! So that’s the first step. But how do I make sure she looks cool? and relevant in a fringed dress, and not like a dated Boomerang photo on Instagram?
One way Nielsen has updated the Hervé Léger silhouette is with – panting – trousers! Really tight pants. (So leggings.) He styled them as a layer under dresses and skirts, and also designed fashionable bike shorts.
The collection sure looks more modern, but can it match the hype of new body-conscious brands like Nensi Dojaka, who won the LVMH Young Designer award last year? More importantly, can the modern woman really live and breathe in a Hervé Léger today? Nielsen says her clothes aren’t as restrictive as they may have been in the past. “I mean, I can squat in there,” said Sports Illustrated model Olivia Ponton, who wore green pants and a crop top, and demonstrated for me in case I didn’t believe her. Lea Michele also said she wore Nielsen’s bandage dresses when she was pregnant last year and found them supportive. But the brand’s sizes only go up to an extra-large, and I’m not entirely convinced that even today’s bandage dresses would handle a burger well. When my friends gave me a neon green vintage RealReal as a birthday present last year, I had to return it because I could barely move.
Comfort has never really been the purpose of a Hervé Léger, however. The bandage dress is designed to make you look and feel hot, and for the five seconds I wore a vintage one, I felt like a very different, very sexy person. I took about a million selfies and posted one on my “Finstagram”. And then I took it off and felt even better.