The Fashion Statement: Who is Christophe Lemaire?
If you don't know who Christophe Lemaire is, you're not alone. Last week, French couturier Hermès made the announcement that by fall of next year, creative director Jean-Paul Gaultier will be out and Christophe Lemaire will be in. See my colleague Deidre Woollard's post.
So who is Christophe Lemaire? Even people in fashion industry, who tend to be aware of any and all up-and-comers, were scratching their heads. Sure, Lemaire has been at Lacoste for the last decade and breathed new life into the brand. And, yes, he's had his own line since 1991. But haute couture houses at the level of Hermès is usually the stomping ground of well-established and well-known designers. Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, to name a few. Surely, Michelle Obama's inauguration gown designer Jason Wu has gotten more ink of late.
Which is why we're all the more intrigued by this choice. "I think the appointment of Christophe is very ambitious," Hermès' general artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas told The New York Times. "Maybe in five years I will look back and think it was a terrible mistake-or a wonderful surprise. I like that. I think we need that. Hermès is really born out of movement. It's not that we were avoiding a famous name. What comes first now is talent."
Lemaire's spring/summer 2010 collection for Lacoste is all about ease and elegance-the kind of clothing you'd see in Swept Away (the Italian film, not the Madonna remake). There's navy swimwear with necklines down to there, white ankle-length breezy skirts and navy and white striped button-down shirts. For Lemaire's own label, he's created clothes that are loose, draped, bohemian and nomadic. There are minimalist dresses, soft jackets and harem pants. Like Lacoste's summer color palette, he uses white, navy and yellow.
The designer's website indicates the collection is sold at a handful of small specialty stores around the world. A few boutiques in New York. Not one department store. Something tells me that could change.