Following Milan, Christophe Lemaire's show this morning made for a palate-cleansing start to the Paris collections. Backstage, the young veteran of modern menswear said that there was "no concept [to it] because there was absolutely no artifice," making his point with a jab of the chin, French-style, and shrug of the shoulders. When laissez-faire dressing is so adroitly realized, why corrupt it with words or theory?
When cajoled, the designer (who, several years back, spearheaded Lacoste's transition from sport label to fashion brand) hinted that a "relaxed work ethic" had been on his mind. This he spun into roomy, no-fuss pieces nodding to men's classics—trenches, peas, parkas—but not adhering to the rules of formal tailoring. Models, hands in pockets, slowly circled the small white space in buttoned-up shirts with flat collars or none at all and, in some cases, with hems that had been straightened and elongated almost to the knee, as a tunic. Were these casual suits or fine pajamas? Either way, a triumph. Flurries of shirtfront cargo pockets neared folly, but without them the collection may have seemed too stripped down.
Jackets were not sculpted around the shoulders but rather moved about, and in concert with, the body like the sails of a mast, suggesting a distant nautical theme, while pants were widened to eighties proportions, mercifully not in the parachute way. By freeing the silhouette and restricting his palette to tone-on-tone masculine hues—navy, stone, ecru, black—Lemaire achieved a compact masterwork of minimalism.