At Lemaire, women walked hand in hand. Men, in slicked leather and long-line coats, also came in pairs, while others, greying and stout, sauntered solo holding shiny accordion clutches and rolled-up copies of Le Monde in the crook of their arm. Some even skimmed in threes, such was the directive of Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran; they replaced the strut with a stroll, gentle, spontaneous and protracted, encouraged to take in the world around them. This thought-provoking amble perhaps best reflects their work. Lemaire doesn’t hurry past and slap you in the face with lurid colour and overt flash. It charms you, almost subliminally, courting you in a way you can’t quite describe. But you can’t help be drawn to its soft beauty, its simplicity, its curious yet perfect cuts. And you can’t help return, well-constructed pieces that emphasise quality and timelessness above all else.
With the insouciant slouch of well-dressed Parisiennes, proportion spanned spacious tenty dresses to tapered waists in an earthy palette of espresso, rust and mustard (French, not American). Particularly lovely was the eggy custard which surfaced towards the end in plush velvet, as too the layering, keynote to this collection.
In contrast to last season’s super fine, form-fitting knits that crawled around the body eloquently, this season saw a return to volume. Of course, proportion has always been key in the Lemaire narrative, but Fall Winter 2020 saw it exaggerated and explored with newfound exaggeration; blouson sleeves, A-line skirts and roomy anoraks.
Considering its ostensible absence from previous collections, print was a particular albeit unexpected highlight. In came in the form of curious animal prints – with painterly deer, giraffe and birds, and in other abstract art that resembled feathered wings – the work of the late Mexican outsider artist Martin Ramirez. But perhaps its most exhilarating expression was in boot form; as chunky knee-high boots proved a very cool continuation of printed skirts, blouson dresses and cigarette pants.
The kind of wardrobe you envision yourself walking around Paris in – no, gently ambling in – Lemaire is both thoroughly modern and thoughtful all the same.