French designer Christophe Lemaire recently told WWD: “I feel a little bit like a wine, actually. For a long time, I was a too-young wine, and I am improving with age.”
Lemaire was referring to his still fairly new status as creative director for women’s ready-to-wear for Hermes, a role that has come out of 25 years in the industry and one that came with big shoes to fill. Lemaire was chosen as the replacement for Jean Paul Gaultier, and is preparing to show his first collection for Hermes in March of 2011.
Lemaire started his career as an assistant to Thierry Mugler in 1984 and, after a stint at Christian Lacroix, started his own label in 1991. He joined sportswear label Lacoste in 2000, and won admiration from critics for his personalized revamping of the alligator-logoed brand. Now, with a legacy behind him and new chapter beginning, Lemaire is looking to redefine himself yet again with some signature Hermes touches.
“I think that it’s time to go back to a more honest vision of fashion, and that there is room for a simpler, more pared-down wardrobe that is better suited to everyday life,” he said. “I have always campaigned to bring quality and, if possible, poetry to everyday life. You don’t change your wardrobe every six months. You build it up over time.” Lemaire said he was both "proud and surprised" that Hermès chose him to succeed Gaultier, despite his lack of visibility in the industry and experience in the luxury market.
So what can we expect from Lemaire for Hermes? Unfortunately, he can't provide that much information yet. “I can’t talk too much about Hermès, because for the time being nothing is concrete. I will feel more comfortable talking about it when I actually have something to show, but what is clear is that Hermès is all about this idea of traveling — traveling in space and time. It immediately conjures a nomadic spirit.” Lemaire added that Hermès' shows would be going back to more intimate gatherings after years of Gaultier’s runway extravaganzas.
So how does the new head of the Hermes women's ready to wear collection feel about the job before him? As he should. “I think I’m going to learn a lot,” Lemaire predicted. “I feel very lucky and happy — but nervous, as well.”
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