Christophe Lemaire straddles a strange divide. His inclinations are insistently global, borrowing from African and Far and Middle Eastern traditions, removed in space and, often, in time, from his own sphere. But then, too, there's his funny predilection for some of the coolest personalities of our own when-and-where. For his Fall menswear, the right side of Lemaire's brain went far afield again—now to the films of the sixties Georgian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov, whose Wild Horses of Fire and The Color of Pomegranates set gorgeously dusty scenes. The left side was feeling New Wave: David Byrne, John Lurie, Ian Curtis. Never the twain shall meet?
In fact, it's part of Lemaire's peculiar charm that he brings them together quite cohesively, for collections that are placeless, timeless, even, often, genderless. (He believes in using the same fabrics for his men's and women's collections.) The loose silhouettes, with their boxy jackets and billowing, pleated pants, did remind you of those New Wave gods, but they also picked up details from midcentury French workwear. A padded item borrowed liberally from the djellaba, and there was a Japanese cast to the twisting, tied cardigan tops that Lemaire showed closed, like breastplates, under suits.
Unlike some of his cohorts, Lemaire keeps his course season after season, refining, but never quite diverging, as he goes. It's likely what's kept him on the periphery of the fashion scene. He's front and center now, as the new creative director at Hermès—where, as Tim Blanks notes, he's kept that Lemaireness intact. A greater share of the world's attention on his namesake collection shouldn't lag far behind.