There is more to Lacoste than piqué polos. So says Christophe Lemaire, its creative director. The line, which was founded in 1933, has a cult following and a long, quirky history to boot. The famed logo was born of a bet: French tennis champion René Lacoste agreed to a wager with his team captainalligator suitcase in exchange for a win. He lost. The local papers, seizing an opportunity, claimed he "fought like an alligator" anyway, et voilà, a brand was born.
But where does fashion fit in? While preppy wardrobes the world over have at least one Lacoste item in their inventory, and pros like Andy Roddick (seated in the front row) wear the label well on the court, it has never been considered runway material. Not until Lemaire came on board. A seasoned designer who put in time at Thierry Mugler, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Lacroix before establishing his own line, he's taken Lacroix's "master of the mix" approach and applied it to this staid, steadfast brand. This season, his inspiration was Japanese and Brazilian street styles and "funny colors and patterns mixed in a funky way." Spring for Lemaire and Lacoste is a riot of mismatched stripes, brights and flouros, snug striped polos, color-blocked halters, dot-print bathing suits, and minis and hoodies. The shoes, such as flat sneakers, slides, and modish booties, were aces. But faults could be called for the forced "fashion" styling: Broad headbands and helmet-like hats were false notes in the show, when just the adorable tomato-red baseball caps would have been fine.