Now in his third season designing the women’s ready-to-wear at Hermès, Christophe Lemaire has a penchant for elevating humble clothes into the luxury stratosphere that the brand inhabits. He opened his handsome show at the Beaux-Arts with a gang of platinum-card-holding gaucho girls, their tweed blanket shawls fringed in black leather; their pleated, ballooning pants tucked into slouchy boots that may never touch dirt. The South American accent gave an appealing swagger to the masculine tailoring that’s become a recurrent theme of the European collections. Except for trim jackets in gray flannel or croc-fronted suede, Lemaire sized most things generously. The outerwear was strong, especially woolen coats and capes in bottle or officer greens — an emerging color story this season. They had the ease of blankets, demonstrating the relaxed-chic vibe of the collection.
Cue the Hermès versions of the tracksuit: T-shirts, cardigans and slim pants in tissue-weight suede in rich spice shades. The Hermès gal is not a formal sort, and even the cocktail and evening clothes skewed casual with silk skirts in foulard prints and loose velvet tops. Nor is she necessarily young, as the presence on the runway of veteran models Marie-Sophie Wilson and Cecilia Chancellor underscored. Lemaire punctuated the low-key show with a French love story. Jane Birkin, namesake of that heat-seeking bag and a former flame of Serge Gainsbourg, sat front row, while Gainsbourg’s widow — the actress, model and singer Bambou — wore the finale look. Despite her awkward parade in a loose velvet shift, she got hoots of encouragement from the photo pit.