Travel is the lifeblood of Hermès, so the company's core business is made up of things that help you get from one place to another. Like bags. Christophe Lemaire is a traveling kind of designer, too: His own collections are always infused with the spirit of parts foreign. He should be a perfect match for the label, but the woosome twosome isn't quite there yet. Maybe it's the luxury thing that's the sticking point. Véronique Nichanian, Lemaire's counterpart in menswear, has had years to settle into an easy groove where she has deluxe and de-lifestyle in perfect balance. Lemaire has yet to strike that balance. Give him time though.
Lemaire imagined the woman at the heart of today's collection on a perpetual journey, so he slung a matching backpack over her dress in honeyed leather. The designer's love of the East was expressed in mosaic prints created by Hermès' unparalleled artisans in silk; Lemaire turned their tropical scarf prints into T-shirts and fluid shorts. But the most spectacular souvenirs that he passed on to his woman on the move were shorts in crocodile chiffre, shaded jade or cobalt. They were quintessential Hermès, a technological feat that treated ultra-luxury with the lightest hand.
Still, the feeling persists that Lemaire himself hasn't completely adjusted to that direction. His own collections are ascetic by comparison, with a strong appreciation of the utilitarian. The most jarring elements in this new Hermès collection were the external pockets that hung like human-size saddlebags. A definite luxury for one kind of traveler, but maybe not the right kind of bag for the woman who steps out in cobalt crocodile.