Entering the hushed sanctuary of Lemaire‘s Fall/Winter 2024 collection was like escaping the Parisian drizzle for a sun-drenched meadow. Gone were the brash proclamations of Western-inspired mega-shows, replaced by an introspective whisper of folk-inspired luxury. Here, dark prairie shirts with embroidered collars and bolo ties nodded to New Mexico sunsets, while thistle prints painted delicate histories on skirts and tops, hinting at far-flung Eastern European influences.
“We like references, but not literal ones,” Christophe Lemaire confided backstage. “It’s a folk spirit, not just Western. You could even see a bit of Mexico.” This gentle vagabondage imbued the collection with a quiet, captivating elegance. Ballet pirouettes met aeroplane silhouettes, and the cozy whispers of sleepwear morphed into city-ready layers. Lemaire’s signature palette of lichen greens, clotted creams and burnt toast browns wrapped generously proportioned garments in a warm, soothing embrace.
Soft tailoring reigned supreme, with mannish suit jackets finding sweet spots alongside pajama-soft trousers cinched with hand-rolled cuffs. Outerwear took on a life of its own, from beefy aviator shearlings and waxed cotton raincoats to bathrobe-weight wool topcoats draped over staff and guests alike. Serge Gainsbourg’s instrumentals floated through the air as models of all ages and backgrounds sashayed down a circular runway, their eyes occasionally glancing back to catch the eye of a photographer.
This season, the show moved to Lemaire’s new headquarters on Place de Vosges, and the upstairs atelier became an intimate space for post-show briefings. “The process defines the result,” Lemaire remarked, and it was true. This quiet, uncluttered workspace, reminiscent of a chic spa, produced a collection that, while meticulous, had an effortless, relaxed chic.
One couldn’t help but think of snuggling under the covers on that dreary Paris morning, but Lemaire offered a compelling alternative. Soft underpinnings and pajamas were transformed through clever layering into city wear, topped off with weatherproof outerwear. The elevated, circular runway, designed by artist Fran Cottell, added a touch of theatricality to the intimacy. Models glided, twirled and strode with purpose, showcasing double-layered jackets in tone-on-tone hues, ballet-inspired wrap skirts that flowed with every step, and relaxed cocoa-colored suits that exuded understated cool. One model in black stirrup leggings, a sheer overskirt and block heels even carried a pair of derbies in her bag – a practical nod to the subway commute. Effortless and impeccable, it was pure Lemaire.
Sarah-Linh Tran and Christophe Lemaire talked about wanting a closer encounter with their clothes, welcoming guests into their world “humbly and honestly,” as Tran put it. “It’s a story of building a collective with strong values and a passion for doing good,” Lemaire added. “Not many independent brands have everything under one roof – the studio, the atelier, all departments. We wanted people to feel it all.”
That feeling went beyond atmosphere. Running your fingers over the garments, you encountered second-skin materials-ribbed viscose-silk blends, superfine merino knits, fluid jersey-that whispered against the skin. A piece with detachable suspenders and stockings even hinted at the seductive possibilities of Lemaire lingerie.
But Lemaire isn’t all ethereal whispers. There’s a commendable practicality woven into the fabric. Carry-overs like cashmere coats, rain shells and familiar pant silhouettes have made their way from one season to the next, reassuring Lemaire devotees that their investment pieces remain relevant. Yet the duo still embrace the new. This season, they collaborated with artists Gijs Frieling and Job Wouters of FreelingWaters, incorporating their undulating woodcut motif into prints alongside delicate embroidery and broderie anglaise. Even the signature croissant bags received a subtle update, adorned with tiny silver beads, while a hiking trainer hybrid perfectly complemented Lemaire’s signature love of volume.
As guests admired the paintbrush dangling from a model’s waist, they might have missed the subtle details – jewelry adorned with glass cat eyes, a sophisticated Swiss Army knife. But despite the myriad elements, the overall look remained effortlessly clean. “We just can’t help layering,” the duo laughed, but it’s more than that. Lemaire layers meaning upon meaning, practicality upon poetry, creating an oasis where quiet luxury blossoms even in the face of Parisian rain.
Read more: Fear of God Fall/Winter 2024