Christophe Lemaire says Hermès is not luxury but ‘extreme quality’

11 March 2011

Christophe Lemaire worked at Lacoste for 10 years before he took up the reins at Hermès. He spoke to the NYT about his first collection for the prestigious handbag and ready to wear brand, which had a laid back, “global citizen of the world” vibe and was well received by the critics.

On the similarities between the two brands, Lemaire points to a certain ‘timeless’ quality in both of them, as opposed to a trend-led philosophy.  ‘Lacoste is a sportswear brand. It is about functionality, easy-to-wear clothes, and also a bit timeless. In a completely different context, I think, Hermès is the same in a way. Hermès is a brand of functionality with extreme quality. At Hermès, we don’t say we do luxury. We do useful objects of an extreme quality. You have to think about the comfort, the functionality, the pockets, the way the clothes will age.’

Well put M. Lemaire. ‘Extreme quality’ We like. He also elaborated on how they would move the collections forward. Rather than radical change, they will look to ‘improve things’; for example, the sound made by the clasps on the bags. ‘There is a beautiful example in the buckles for the bags. There is so much passion in how to make the bag and making the hardware that has just the right noise when it closes. Some of the workers would spend three seasons looking for the perfect noise for the bags.’

And finally, he clarified his choice to use a live falcon in the show – ‘I had the idea of Diana the huntress, goddess of nature, and so the falcon came. Also I love the idea of showing a little bit of the wilder side of Hermès’

AND the trouser-boots that he had invented, which had all the editors scratching their heads so much; ‘That was the idea of these girls dipped in leather – leather legs. We had fine lambskin leggings in the same quality of the boots and sandals, and we also had these pants-boots, which were not easy to make . . . I really like the idea of these leather legs. I like to make it elongated like that.’

- Naomi Attwood


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