Nearly two years ago, Christophe Lemaire took the reins at Hermès. Withoutdrawing too firm a line between his work for that house and the clothes he continues to design for his own label, there is one connection to be made: Exposure to the sky's-the-limit luxury of Hermès has emboldened the designer to push his own wares to a more rarefied place. "Psychologically,
it has decomplexed me," he said, "released me from the fear of going to a higher level." He called his new collection his most precise and also his highest-quality. It's never been cut-rate stuff, but the offering was discernibly elevated by the introduction of a cashmere program and heritage fabrics like Irish donegal tweed and British felted wool (the original material for the traditional British duffel coat, here used for a stiff and substantial double-breasted overcoat). The style remains variations on
Lemairean themes. While the designer professes a love for post-punk and New Wave—Ian Curtis is a constant reference—you'll never see anything as literal as a band tee here. Instead, there are nods at workwear, as in a peacoat-style dockworker's jacket, and at global traditions. The monkish silhouette the designer prefers, with loose, pleated carrot pants and streamlined, deceptively simple tops, won't win over everyone. But this was a strong, sophisticated collection, and Lemaire
acolytes will appreciate the uptick of its not-quite-monastic luxe.