The last outfit on Christophe Lemaire’s catwalk today—a biscuit-colored coat with matching backpack—showed his woman at her best: intrepid, determined, on the move. To describe Lemaire’s modus operandi as “evolution” is too bland for the quiet forcefulness of his clothes; “evolution with elevation” might be more appropriate. After the show, Lemaire talked about a new precision in both his look and his business. “The determination was always there,” he said, “but my experience at Hermès has given me even more confidence.” He took time to credit his team and his partner, Sarah-Linh Tran.
Now that Hermès is in the past, Lemaire can devote all his creative energy to his own collection. It showed today. The show took place in a huge, meditative space in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, to a soundtrack of Nini Raviolette’s “Suis-Je Normale?”—a tune from 1980 that made you grateful for DJs who go that extra mile to find a track so enchantingly arcane that its excavation can only help to enrich your life. Lemaire’s clothes embodied both qualities: calm and normality. He loves a monochrome palette, layering a coat, jacket, and skirt in head-to-toe navy, white, or gray, in straightforward fabrics like cotton poplin and denim. But there was a new, confident sense of almost-drama in the volume, the swirl, the drape of the outfits here. The coats that have always been Lemaire’s strongest items evolved into not just a “trench-shirt” but also a red coatdress (the matching shoulder bag was one of the collection’s appealing calling cards). The designer showed his deftness of touch when he layered a trench over a trench-shirt over a full skirt. There was a hint of cute wit in a wrapped top and skirt in chambray, where the top featured belt loops, like the waistband of a pair of jeans. The way that one overscale dress in fresh cotton poplin ended in a cascade of plissé underscored Lemaire’s new confidence. If there’s always been a stringent rigor to his designs, it’s clearer than ever that he is now letting go.