We met with Christophe Lemaire as he took the helm at Hermès. After his remarkable work at Lacoste and the affirmation of his own brand, the French designer took over from Jean-Paul Gaultier as artistic director of the prestigious house. This season, he presents a SS12 collection for both his own label and the Hermès house.
After ten years spent at Lacoste, you are about to begin a new experience. Is it the end of something or a new start?
Christophe Lemaire: Both… it’s difficult to say… even if I have to admit the feeling of beginning something new predominates… Yes, I am very excited to start this new experience with Hermès.
What would you say about your experience at Lacoste?
C.L: I worked for Lacoste with passion, and love also. There is most certainly something in my vision of style that fits the spirit of Lacoste, otherwise I couldn’t have stayed so long or participated to its evolution. Today though I have the feeling I have reached the end of the drill. Ten years is a long time and I think my personal style has developed a great deal, also as far as my own brand is concerned. A style has quite naturally emerged for the last four or five seasons because my relationship to sportswear has changed, has distanced itself from what I have designed at Lacoste. I have the feeling I have come to a moment of truth, of maturity. Things have become stabilized, consolidated also in the organisation of my team and my shop.
Was your interest for sportswear a determining factor in your work at Lacoste?
C.L:I have always liked to sketch daily, functional clothes in which one can feel at ease, comfortable, there was also this idea of “easy chic” that I brought to Lacoste. Chic sportswear, but also very expensive because of the amount of work it represents.
What makes the Lemaire style today?
C.L: All the elements I have just mentioned are present, but today I express them in a more and more emancipated way in my own brand. I would say my collection has now a larger scope, with a dimension of quality, the appearance of oriental influences, elements of the traditional Asian clothes, mixed to others influences, but there is also the urge to clean as much as possible the design, in order to make it timeless. I try to work out of fashion, I mean outside the fashion calendar. I look for a new relationship to the time of fashion.
Would you say there is a sublimation of the everyday life?
C.L: This is exactly what I am interested in, what I have always been interested in: I want to sublimate the everyday life. Some designers work in a more spectacular way, they make a show of their clothes which have to have a strong visual impact. I am not interested in that. I rather work on the daily dimension of clothes. I don’t like clothes which dress up the person who wears them, clothes should support the personality, free the gesture, allow a personality to reveal itself. Style interests me much more than fashion, I like the idea of creating clothes out of fashion.
I believe that people who are interested in style try to define slowly, bit by bit, their basic wardrobe, that is to say their uniform, the type of clothes that fits them.
According to you, are clothes an affirmation of the personality?
C.L: What is interesting is to ask oneself the question : who am I ? For me clothes are no futile matter, on the contrary they are very important. I believe we all have walked along the same path and we all have in our wardrobe clothes that correspond to us. When we wear them, we feel ourselves. Clothes sublimate us and make us beautiful. This is what I am interested in.