Christophe Lemaire is gearing up for his first show as Hermès's new creative director of womenswear after Jean Paul Gaultier left the house with a flourish of galloping horses last season. In an interview with WWD, Lemaire said that his shows for Hermès will be far more intimate than Gaultier's dramatic runway presentations, at least for the immediate future. As for hints about the collection, he kept mum about his inspiration except to say that he was more in line with Belgian designer Martin Margiela, who designed for Hermès from 1998 to 2003. “I think I will be walking in the footsteps of Margiela more than Gaultier, even if I have a lot of respect for Jean Paul Gaultier and his virtuosity,” he said.
Best known up until now for revamping the image of French label Lacoste over the past decade, Lemaire says that his former position, which has now been taken up by Felipe Oliveira Baptista, had become stifling.
At Lacoste, I was working under constraints that meant that, even though I think I did a good job, I was never able to unleash my full potential. So I hope to be able to do that at Hermès...The problem with a brand is that if the designer has a vision and the management does not have the same vision, or does not understand that vision, then there is obviously a disconnect. So I think that is being addressed, but it was definitely an issue for me.
He also hopes that moving to Hermès will help him grow his own eponymous label, which has suffered financially after his principal backer, a Japanese businessman, died suddenly. As of now, he's not even quite sure if it can survive. "Am I going to continue? That is the question we are asking ourselves now,” he said. “Of course, I would like to. It’s really just a question of financing." He admits that he has not ruled out approaching Hermès for help, adding quickly, "But it’s too early. We don’t know each other well enough yet, and I haven’t proved myself yet."