Christophe Lemaire's T-shirt collaborations with favorite artists like ESG, Ariel Pink, and classic Krautrockers Cluster suggest degrees of idiosyncratic enthusiasm and wide-ranging curiosity—not to mention exquisite taste—that should stand him in good stead when he enters the rarefied, intimate world of luxury that Hermès represents. (He recently replaced Jean Paul Gaultier as the brand's creative director.) And the collection he just showed for men and women under his own name—his first show in seven years—also offered proof that he has his own distinctive take on quietly convincing luxe.
Lemaire took the Orient as his inspiration. He was particularly struck by the men and women in the street, all dressed in the same way, in the documentary Michelangelo Antonioni made in 1972 during the Cultural Revolution in China. But where that event was a denial of individuality, Lemaire used a battery of subtle fashion effects to make his uniforms stand out. Hot colors—cinnamon, curry, cyclamen—contrasted with cool whites, taupes, and grays in superlight silks and cottons and delicate prints. In both his women's and menswear, the designer made the most of the elegant volumes of Nehru jackets, caftans, kimonos, and kurtas. He mixed East and West to great effect: a subtle samurai shoulder on a seersucker jacket, say, or shorts in pale gray Ultrasuede paired with a modified kimono top, or a deconstructed trench that shared a feather-light flyaway quality with a windbreaker in paper cotton. The alluring plainness of the clothes brought to mind Martin Margiela's work for Hermès, and even if that impression was shaped by the announcement of Lemaire's new post, it surely bodes well for the future.