Christophe Lemair, The New Designer Face of Hermes, Unveils Understated Fall Collection

This seems to be the year of new beginnings. Sue Whiteley has taken over as head of Givenchy. LVMH’s Frederic Cumenal is set to take over as Tiffany & Co.’s president for Asia, Europe and emerging markets. Meanwhile, French fashion house Hermes is learning about life without Jean Paul Gaultier. After Gaultier’s exit in October last year, Hermes has already found a successor – the immensely talented French designer Christophe Lemaire, who unveiled his ready-to-wear Fall-Winter collection for 2012 only yesterday. And that in itself has sent out indications of a departure from Gaultier’s edgy, energetic style.

Lemaire’s new collection is understated and elegant. In a way, it is the perfect fit for Hermes, a fashion house which has its roots in saddle-making during the nineteenth century. Lemair’s ready-to-wear line included several parkas and floor-sweeping capes in fabrics ranging from soft leather to mohair. The runway show which took place in Hermes’ new boutique in Left Bank had a restful ease about it. The models walked in slowly to harp music played by a young woman.

There was none of the high-flung energy of Gaultier. Those familiar with Gaultier’s shows will remember his talent for really working his themes. He arranged for Wimbledon-style grass to carpet the runway when showcasing his tennis collection. Another time, Gaultier had Lipizzaner horses give a dressage demonstration when showcasing his equestrian theme line.

That energy may have been missing, but the workmanship on Lemaire’s ready-to-wear collection was topnotch. Lemaire proved without a doubt that he is indeed a worthy successor to Gaultier.


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