Changes are afoot in the house of Christophe Lemaire, as evidenced by the succinct note announcing the change of name — the brand will henceforth be known as "Lemaire" — and the new direction as a "collective, independent project led by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran." Clearly, the intermission left by his departure from the creative helm of Hermès has been an occasion to reshape the direction of his eponymous brand. Yet these announcements felt mostly cosmetic in nature: Tran has played a major role for quite some time, and his timeless esthetic is evergreen. Beyond that, their one fixed point remains their aesthetic, and what was shown today is but another thread in the luxurious tapestry of the Lemaire universe.
There is something innately quiet about Lemaire's work, which calls for an observant eye to assess its subtle nuances. Any collection with Lemaire invariably invokes references as varied as they can be obscure, so deeply ingrained are they in his cultural make-up. But rather than come across as arrogance, his eclecticism evolved into collections that are approachable, lightweight in their incidentals.
This season, the collection seemed to concentrate on an essential wardrobe. Comfortable but not coddled, in a parka or a grey double-breasted coat, there was a tactile sensuality to the layering; a sense of tension between practicality and a more feminine rapport of sensuality to clothes, perhaps. Collars draped across the chest, thickly knit sweaters worn against the skin, sweeping expanses of fabric gathered around the self. While the jeans are still a fairly novel item (they were only introduced a handful of seasons ago), they too have gone from workwear to workplace. The efficient, pure designs had something of the Fifties to them, a flair for just fit and proportion — right down to that ideally cropped trouser length — delivered in the most compact manner.
As models walked by, a thought came to mind: fashion often seeks rebellion in shape to express freedom through visual shock. Lemaire's wardrobe of non-distracting, classically influenced shapes, whittled down to their most refined expression, feels practically subversive. What's more: being appropriate need not be stiff, nor too serious. This notion had perhaps always been present, but this time it took root deeper than ever.