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Wardrobe: Creativity Unbound

Jill Newman

Though most well-dressed men are familiar with such signature Hermès pieces as the brand’s H-shaped belt buckle and elegantly patterned neckties, even the cognoscenti remained unaware of the French fashion house’s most exclusive service until very recently. Through a newly expanded bespoke program, clients can collaborate with the firm’s men’s artistic director, Véronique Nichanian, to create almost any imaginable piece of apparel, each customized to an unprecedented degree: The tailors will even cut and size a jacket pocket to fit a particular pair of glasses.

Nichanian has designed the Hermès menswear collections for 25 years, earning acclaim for modernizing classic pieces with her trim, black silhouettes and edgy touches. Yet despite her own distinctive aesthetic, she encourages bespoke clients to express their own personalities without simply looking to the clothes she sends down the runway. While many luxury brands offer similar services, few give clients such full rein. One customer, for example, brought Nichanian a stone he had found on the beach and asked her to match its hue for a raglan cashmere crewneck sweater that would remind him of summer warmth during winter. "If a man has a wonderful memory of a childhood sweater or a color that resonates with him, I can re-create the fabric or the color," says Nichanian, who will custom-dye raw wool until the shade is just right. "It is the idea that this piece is made just for you; nobody else will own it."

Though many Hermès boutiques offer the bespoke service, the newer men’s-only stores in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong stock the largest selections of fabrics and leathers. At the brand’s Madison Avenue location, the third floor has been transformed into a comfortable salon with hundreds of large swatches of material available for perusal, including soft, buttery crocodile skins and a range of super-lightweight cashmere and wool blends. Working with either an in-house specialist or, on request, Nichanian herself, clients can design tailored suits and shirts, sporty knitwear pieces, topcoats, and leather goods—all of which are then constructed at the company’s ateliers in and around Paris. Delivery times range from a few weeks to six months; depending on material and details, bespoke suits cost from $9,500 to $55,000.

"I want men to be comfortable and to look and feel smart and charming," says Nichanian, whose willingness to accommodate her clients has few bounds. So far, she has refused two requests: one for a half-suit (with a one-armed jacket) and the other for a pink fur coat.

Hermès, 800.441.4488, www.hermes.com

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