"At last, pure French chic," enthused French Vanity Fair's Virginie Mouzat as she exited the Hermès
show tonight. It was easy to see why a purely chic Frenchwoman such as she would feel that way after a week in which the waters of Parisian fashion had been thoroughly muddied by ugh! foreigners. Cue huge sigh of relief: The house of Hermès, paragon of all French things bright and beautiful in the eyes of the world, remains in the hands of a countryman, the subtle, earnest Christophe Lemaire.
And yet, the spirit of his collection this season felt guided by the spectral hand of the ultimate twisted Anglo, Alfred Hitchcock. To be precise, Hitchcock's Rebecca: Dark romance gone wrong. The setting for Lemaire's show was the library of the Lycée Henri IV, and its wood-paneled walls were appropriate for the governess-y aspect of mid-calf skirts, high-waisted gray flannels, crisp white shirts, and mannish overthings. That mannishness harked back to Martin Margiela's remarkable—and remarkably uncelebrated—moment under the auspices of Hermès. So what heaven it was to see Lemaire tapping the luxe of the house in the film noir gloss of immaculately shaped and textured monochromes, like the light-sucking sheen on the black ponyskin shift worn by Kati Nescher, or the soft-shouldered swoop of the coat that draped Arizona Muse's belted cardigan, or the croc pencil skirt paired with a zipped navy blouson. Lemaire said they were women on a rendezvous. Love seemed like their obvious destination. Loss would be their destiny.