Now in his third season designing the women’s ready-to-wear atHermès, Christophe Lemaire has a penchant for elevating humble clothesinto the luxury stratosphere that the brand inhabits. He opened hishandsome show at the Beaux-Arts with a gang of platinum-card-holdinggaucho girls, their tweed blanket shawls fringed in black leather; theirpleated, ballooning pants tucked into slouchy boots that may nevertouch dirt. The South American accent gave an appealing swagger to themasculine tailoring that’s become a recurrent theme of the Europeancollections. Except for trim jackets in gray flannel or croc-frontedsuede, Lemaire sized most things generously. The outerwear was strong,especially woolen coats and capes in bottle or officer greens — anemerging 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 andslim pants in tissue-weight suede in rich spice shades. The Hermès galis not a formal sort, and even the cocktail and evening clothes skewedcasual with silk skirts in foulard prints and loose velvet tops. Nor isshe necessarily young, as the presence on the runway of veteran modelsMarie-Sophie Wilson and Cecilia Chancellor underscored. Lemairepunctuated the low-key show with a French love story. Jane Birkin,namesake of that heat-seeking bag and a former flame of SergeGainsbourg, sat front row, while Gainsbourg’s widow — the actress, modeland singer Bambou — wore the finale look. Despite her awkward parade ina loose velvet shift, she got hoots of encouragement from the photopit.

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