July 05, 2010 Paris
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.