As Always, It’s Perfect. Lemaire SS21

I don’t know how Christophe Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran do it, but their collections always reasonate with me the most in terms of ready-to-wear. I can be obsessed with the most over-the-top dress and feel inspired by the most thoroughly planned visual production. But in terms of clothes, my heart belongs to Lemaire. Their spring-summer 2021 presentation, of course audience-less, is co-ed, as the designers depart from men’s and women’s division. Also, from now on, we will see their collections twice a year, during men’s fashion weeks. “We’ve been frustrated for a while by the timing of the schedule,” said Lemaire. “You know, showing the pre-collection for women together with the men’s and then waiting two months to show the second half of the women’s collection. For many different reasons it was complicated and frustrating for production and also buyers. So it’s obvious that this was an opportunity to show everything together, even though it was a big challenge for the team to develop the collection in time.” Well, it’s as effortlessly refined as usual – no marks of backstage rush visible. One of the ways they met that challenge, said Tran, was by working more closely than ever before. She added: “The men’s team and the women’s team worked hand-in-hand, choosing fabrics and colors in common… we focused on what was common between the man and the woman, and then we added more specifically women’s volumes and more specific men’s volumes.” The result was a highly coherent collection in which that commonality was evident but resulted in subtle gradations and hints of contrast, rather than the monotony of a monogamously unisex collection. As evinced in the lookbook shots where womenswear and menswear looks are shown in the same frame, a close affinity looks like complementary dressing rather than couple-coupling. There was a stirring marine green, a palest of yellow, a dash of denim. Many of the garments were in a kaleidoscope of neutrals – shades of clay, ochre, wheat – whose delicate differences became apparent and increasingly rich the more attention you paid to them. Men wore smocks and women boxy suiting either plain or in a beautiful Martin Ramirez landscape print. Tran concluded: “we build the collection as a wardrobe. The idea of being able to enrich the wardrobe is very pertinent to us.” Lemaire’s newly co-ed articulation shows that the designers do what they realy feel like is the most suitable for them – and this even more strenghtens mine – and other fans’ – love for the Parisian label.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Beautiful Reality. Lemaire AW20

And of course, my heart got completely stolen by Lemaire. Models at Sarah-Linh Tran and Christophe Lemaire’s show emerged in groups of two or three, and the designers encouraged them to wander instead of stride, taking in their surroundings and making sidelong glances. Along with the typical runway models, there was the Japanese actor Ryo Kase playing a middle-aged “commuter” with a rolled-up copy of Le Monde, an older gentleman with white hair and one of the label’s clamshell leather bags in the crook of his arm, and mature women in head-to-toe shades of brown who gave the audience outfit envy. Most of the looks were monochrome in varying shades of neutrals. Backstage, Tran reasoned that “the face stands out more that way.” Layering was one of the key takeaways here, along with the power of a great coat or jacket and a sturdily heeled knee-high boot. The silhouette tended toward the voluminous: blouson jackets were belted at the hips over A-line skirts and trench coats came with assertive storm flaps and hoods. Delightful. The biggest surprise coming this season from Lemaire? Prints. They don’t regularly feature in their collections, but they were a prominent part of this one. With permission from the family of the late Mexican outsider artist Martín Ramírez, they used his earthy drawings on dresses, separates and knee-high boots. They were an enlivening element, beautiful but understated in the quintessentialy Lemaire way. Tran and Lemaire evolve with patience and consideration, so that new-season clothes pair effortlessly and elegantly with ones from seasons past. At the moment, it’s my favourite collection in Paris.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Classics. Lemaire AW20

When in doubt, turn to classic. Specifically, Lemaire’s classic. For their men’s autumn-winter 2020 and women’s pre-fall 2020, Christophe Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran offer a sober take on masculine wardrobe. A coat with wide shoulders, relaxed wool cardigans you might wear on a bare body, over-sized, thick cotton shirts, black leather pants with a loose fit (they also come in  denim). The workwear-inspired jumpsuit, belted at the waist, is probably one of the best pieces I’ve seen this entire season. The entire collection is kept in warm, earthy colour palette that always works. Just perfect.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The 2010s / Lemaire AW15

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Lemaire AW15 and sensual minimalism.

If you’re visiting my journal, even from time to time, you surely know how I love Lemaire. Christophe Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran‘s Paris-based label is one of my ultimate favourites, every season. But in the 2010s period, it was their autumn-winter 2015 collection that completely, completely stole my heart. It was the perfect balance between minimalism and sensuality. So elegance, chic, yet wearable. And elusively appealing! The heat was undoubtedly turned up: more bare shoulders, more daring décolleté, plus a molded leather bag that Tran described as “boobs and ass.” Asked to describe  how the Lemaire woman has moved on, Lemaire answered: “More dangerous, less melancholic.” Sexuality that’s subtle; in between the lines; unobvious. But, as I said, any other Lemaire collection that we’ve seen this decade is nearly as good. Another favourites include autumn-winter 2019, spring-summer 2017 and autumn-winter 2013. And of course autumn-winter 2017, the collection I saw in person in Paris during a showroom presentation!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.