Christophe Lemaire Spring/Summer 2011*
Lacoste Spring/Summer 2011
When it was announced that Christophe Lemaire was to succeed Jean Paul Gaultier at Hermes the reaction was met with a confusion the belies the lack of attention that can sometimes be paid amidst fashion hype. The veteran designer’s appointment was scoffed at due to his work with Lacoste, immediately dismissing him as a polo shirt designer. Actually, Lemaire’s work at Lacoste has been profound though quiet; demonstrating the ability to elevate what could possibly be one of the most banal yet recognized sportswear brands into something directional and relevant. In the ten years that Lemaire has been at the helm he has shown the fullest potential of the brand, reimagining it in his own utopian vision with tinges of Andre Courreges, Kenzo Takada, and Oliviero Toscani. When Lemaire did look to the brand’s heritage he did so with a studied understanding of its inherent modernism, extracting an essence that went far beyond commercial prerogatives.
But it probably wasn’t his ability to sync up a conservative French brand known for mundane sportswear with a relevant contemporary mood that got him the new job; it was probably the work Lemaire has been designing under his own name for the past 20 years. Lemaire has taken a quiet yet no less directional approach to fashion, leaning away from trend cycles and any other fashion discourse, instead pursuing something entirely unique. He’s not a designer that will be inspired by an ostentatious theme; rather he seems to be more interested in how people actually live and designing ways to improve it. Lemaire is genuinely interested in classicism, creating clothes that will not age, and if they do, they will age gracefully. And his clothes are universal, defying any specific cultural attachment or generation, so non-referential that they seem to be cleansing in taste if not in spirit. All this considered, it is clear that Lemaire’s position at Hermes marks a new direction for the esteemed house and for luxury in general. Where exactly will it go? We’ll find out soon enough.
*Since posting I learned that the host of this website does not allow the video to be played due to audio copyrights. Please view the video in youtube.com. My apologies. -Jeremy