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Hermes Replaces Gaultier With Lemaire

Godfrey Deeny
May 26th, 2010 @ 12:56 AM - Paris

French luxury brand Hermes has named Christophe Lemaire to be the new artistic director of its women’s ready-to-wear collection, replacing his fellow Frenchman Jean Paul Gaultier, in something of a surprise nomination.

Lemaire, 45, has for the past eight years been the creative director of Lacoste, winning kudos for his subtle revamping of that French active sportswear brand.

Prior to joining Lacoste, Lemaire was the lead designer at of the department of haute couture and prêt-a-porter of Christian Lacroix, before quitting in 1990 to create his own label.

Lemaire’s most recent collections for Lacoste have featured lots of chic sportswear ensembles that clearly referenced early space-age collections by the likes of Andre Courrèges in the 1960s.

Gaultier leaves the house after seven years designing its women’s ready-to-wear collection. He himself succeeded Martin Margiela.

“After seven fruitful years of creative partnership, Hermes and Jean-Paul Gaultier… have decided to bring to an end their collaboration allowing Jean-Paul Gaultier to concentrate on his own projects,” Hermes said in a release sent via email on Wednesday night.

The spring 2011 collection to be presented in October will be the last designed by Gaultier, though their relationship shall continue. Lemaire’s runway debut will be in March 2011.

Hermes began investing in Gaultier’s own house back in 1999, initially buying a 35-percent stake, for which it paid $23 million, part of which was used to buy the designer’s current headquarters in Paris’ third arrondissement.

Gaultier’s tenure at Hermes was marked by an avant grade take on the tony label’s equestrian roots. He showed sheared mink riding jackets, velvet jodhpurs and fringed blanket jackets with Rocky Mountain references. His most recent collection for Hermes featured a series of takes on English detectives and spies, everything from James Bond to The Avengers.

Gaultier, 58, began his career in 1970 after fashion school with a first job at the house of Pierre Cardin. In 1978, he launched his own line, quickly winning acclaim and notoriety for his risqué and conceptual fashion. The designer has worked extensively with European and American movie stars and most famously outfitted Madonna with a conical bra for her 1990 “Blonde Ambition” tour. The last French actress to win an Oscar, Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose in 2008 wore a Gaultier sequined white dress to prize giving ceremony.

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* Hermes Posts 7.3% Rise in First Half Sales


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* Cacharel Unveils New CEO, in Major Corporate Revamp


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