Christophe Lemaire on Luxury, Lacoste, and His Hermès Debut

Hermès Fall 2011 collection
Photo: Getty Images
A look from the Hermès Fall 2011 runway show

All eyes were on Christophe Lemaire on March 6, when his début collection for storied French fashion house Hermès took the runway. After all, his predecessor, Jean Paul Gaultier, had held the post for seven years, and Lemaire’s own background included a little-known eponymous line and a 10-year stint at contemporary sportswear giant Lacoste.

“I am just a new chapter in the long history of ready-to-wear at Hermès,” Lemaire told Eric Wilson in an extended Q & A that ran on the New York Times’s On the Runway blog on Monday.

Wilson and Lemaire covered everything from the leather pant-boot hybrids (“That was the idea of these girls dipped in leather—leather legs,” explained Lemaire) and the live falcon (“I had the idea of Diana the huntress”) that made their way down the runway to Lemaire’s former jobs and never-ending search for luxury.

The question on everyone's mind: How to go from Lacoste to Hermès? Aside from a French heritage, the brands seem vastly different on paper, though Lemaire insisted there are more similarities than meet the eye.

“Lacoste is a sportswear brand. It is about functionality, easy-to-wear clothes, and also a bit timeless. It is a brand that is somewhere else on the side of fashion. In a completely different context, I think, Hermès is the same in a way. Hermès is a brand of functionality with extreme quality.”

One last gem from the interview: After Lemaire describes an intricate process of hand-sculpting cashmere for a certain jacket (pictured) in the Fall 2011 collection, Wilson asks how much it’s expected to cost.

“I think 6,000 [euros]? It’s nothing,” replied Lemaire.

Seeing as how outerwear hovered around $250 at Lacoste, it looks like Lemaire is settling into his new home quite comfortably.