Fashion art at old airport

SINGAPORE - It was a departure of sorts for both Hermes and Old Kallang Airport on Tuesday night.

The luxury French fashion house broke with tradition, unveiling its latest men's collection in Singapore near a very different sort of runway - for aircraft rather than fashion - in the last event held at the former airport before it is redeveloped into a lifestyle hub.

The Men On The Move event saw 900 guests exploring the brand's clothes, shoes and accessories through 14 installations, performances and displays.

Created in collaboration with Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich and French digital artist Miguel Chevalier, these revolved around the notion of travel - a nod to the brand's roots in saddle- making and spirit of travel.

As guests mingled in one room, an airport conveyer belt with bags and shoes started moving - and a male model sitting in a crate was thrown in for good fun. In another room, clothes and aeroplane propellers were suspended from the ceiling. Instead of being made to take off their accessories at "airport security", guests were asked to put on watches, scarves and hats to have their photos taken.

Other highlights of the three-hour event, from 7 to 10pm: a maze of interconnected dressing rooms that guests explored by stepping through what looked like mirrors, and a vintage Voisin car on display in a former hangar.

The 1936 car, one of two left in the world, was flown in from France so guests could admire its Hermes leather upholstery.

The invite-only event was part of the brand's Men's Universe Celebrations, which have been held in Beijing, Paris and Miami.

Artistic director of Hermes' menswear collection Veronique Nichanian says such an event allows the brand to highlight all its offerings.

"They may know our ties and clothes but they may not know about our shoes. Some may also not know that we make bicycles. It gives customers an opportunity to see everything together," says Ms Nichanian, who has been the artistic director since 2009.

"It's more participative than a runway show," she adds.

Hermes-clad models also walked among the crowd. Some wore trenchcoats with watches on the inside and pretended to peddle them.

One clotheshorse carried a saddle on his shoulder, another had a briefcase on his head. About 500 items were displayed at the event, the cost of which Hermes would not disclose.

Among those present was Mr Nicolas Travis, 26, who found the event "interesting and highly interactive".

"Here, we get to see how the clothes can work and move in everyday life, which you can't see on the runway," says the Singaporean entrepreneur.

Another guest, Mr Phillip Phua, felt that the event was a fun way to window-shop.

"There's no pressure to buy anything and things are placed in interesting ways," says the executive director in the finance industry, 54.

The public can explore a slice of the Hermes Men's Universe at its Scotts Square boutique. The shop will be transformed into a men's- only store from today to May 11. A wide selection of items showcased at Tuesday night's event, including the Hermes Le Flaneur bicycle, will be available for sale.

A Yamaha VMAX motorcycle that has been upholstered in Hermes leather will also be on display, but it is not for sale.

Old Kallang Airport, which operated from 1937 to 1955, is now closed to prepare for interim use, to complement the nearby Sports Hub. Previous reports said it is slated to be redeveloped into a lifestyle hub.

Earlier this month, the historic site hosted a Calvin Klein event attended by stars such as Zhang Ziyi, Louis Koo and Fifty Shades Of Grey's Dakota Johnson.

This article was published on May 1 in The Straits Times.

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