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The Independent Culture
Martin Margiela's debut collection for Hermes united Belgian modernism and French luxury to stunning effect. To show his clothes, he used professional women rather than models. One was the photographer Joanna Van Mulder, who took these pictures of her fellow catwalkers


Chilot (this page) is a 25-year-old lawyer from Paris.

"I was in a restaurant when I was asked if I would like to model for Hermes. It was a funny thing, I was very surprised. I used to be a model in my teens, but I have just trained to be a lawyer. Margiela was very easy to speak to, and he quickly understood what I needed. I really like what he is doing for Hermes - it is very elegant with simple colours. I was not nervous to do the catwalk show at all, I found it more difficult to be photographed. They said for the show I must be just like I am walking down the street, and that is what I did. My sister saw me on the television. It was very nice."

Two-button semi-structured jacket in charcoal cashmere flannel, pounds 1,790, hand-rolled crew-neck tunic in dark grey twill crepe, pounds 470, trousers in charcoal stretch flannel, pounds 495, and key folder pendant in black box, pounds 79, all by Hermes, 179 Sloane Street, London SW1 (enq: 0171 823 1014)


English-born Casali, 45 (opposite), works in Paris for the French Ministry of Education, promoting French higher education in Asia.

"I used to model in my teens and twenties and recently began again, primarily for Hermes. That was how Martin Margiela came across me. I went to see him and he asked me what I felt comfortable in. I tried on a few looks, and together we chose this outfit for me to wear in the show. I have done two shows for him now. The atmosphere was tremendously relaxed, and we were all made to feel very special, like queens. The clothes were butter- soft and comfortable, the hair and make-up very natural. All the women were taken seriously, we were not treated like an extension of the designer's vision, but like ourselves."

Sleeveless high-neck pullover in light grey cashmere, pounds 540, trousers in brown tricotine, pounds 410, and long wrap coat in baby alpaca, pounds 1,560, all by Hermes, as before