"I end up doing what I don't want to do, giving references," Christophe Lemaire rued at the conclusion of his Spring/Summer 2016 show, standing in front of a lineup in the neutral palette that is par for the course. Much of the perceived inspirations came from portraiture of various ages, reflecting the viewer's personal miscellanea. To be aware of the past yet projecting yourself, or your collections, in the future reaps definite rewards.
So rather than influences, this collection was an exercise in balance, how to reconcile sophisticated desires with demands of practicality, leaving an overall impression of unfettered ease, an increasing habit in this house. Shown against the white walls of the Jeu de Paume, nuances came out stark enough; thrown in the hustle and bustle of a city ― say, Paris, as his woman is unequivocally Gallic ― they are a quasi-camouflage.
Still, the Lemaire woman, more grown up than ever, commanded a poised presence, one of ease and confidence. Constructed shapes gave bulk but didn't encumber. Denim was thoroughly explored, in white, rust, black, cut into handsome suits and lending a weighty stature to these practical silhouettes. Developed with an artisan specialized in endpapers for bookbinding, a marble print swirled on a later ensemble, revealing unexpected sweetness, that je ne sais quoi of muted sensuality.
As he stands poised for the launch of his collaboration with Uniqlo, subtle differences were perhaps more in relief than ever. If pared-down lines are the bedrock of the Lemaire woman, it is the half-moon curve of a trouser leg, the finesse of a micro-Oxford cotton, the multi-level depth of a pleat that make the richness of this offering. As the page turned on this collection, it was clear that while the meaning remained the same, this line and the collaboration provided as different an experience as reading a first edition or a paperback does.