Framed in the Present:
The Wearable Poetry of Lemaire
by Thomas Sweeney
Photographed by Hanna Tveite
Judging by the breakneck pace of today's fashion ecosphere, you may think that "slow fashion" is a thing of the past. But Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran, the French-born designers behind the Lemaire label, are here to tell us that it definitely isn't. For them, style is a political expression of a woman's identity—an identity that likely doesn't change every six months, let alone every three.
As such, each collection by the duo is a natural extension of the previous one; Lemaire and Tran tweak their go-to archetypes, instead of reinventing them. Their tastes skew minimal, modest, utilitarian, achromatic. With high-quality fabrics and solid, no-frills design as starting points, the trend-driven whims of fashion don't stand a chance. The self-assured Lemaire woman, after all, spends her money wisely, adding to her wardrobe piece by piece.
The result is seasonless clothes that strike a balance between dreams and materiality. As Mr. Lemaire has put it, none of his designs set an unapproachable standard. (In other words, they're as wearable as can be.) And while a current of Nouvelle Vague Frenchness tends to persist season after season, it's ultimately the diverse community of Paris's Belleville neighborhood that serves as a key source of inspiration for Lemaire's functional garments. A pleat or pocket on a worker's uniform, for example, may look decorative at first glance, but is in fact wholly functional.
For Spring 2018, the Lemaire collection is a tailored approach to generous cuts—a look that Mr. Lemaire honed splendidly as the creative director of Hermès from 2010 to 2015. Think twisted shirtdresses, billowy pleated tunics over trousers, and a khaki jacket with a nipped waist and cuffs that reach mid-palm. The Line, for its part, presents a neutral-palette edit of the collection, particularly ideal for the woman just starting to fill her Lemaire vestiaire.
Smart outerwear serves as the focal point. A structured, stand-collar blouson in black cotton features a hidden placket and contrast top-stitching (a motif for Lemaire Spring 2018), while an oversize, apron-style belted trench provides a capacious counterpoint.
For Spring 2018, the Lemaire collection is a tailored approach to generous cuts—a look that Mr. Lemaire honed splendidly as the creative director of Hermès from 2010 to 2015.
Long and short-sleeve leotard tops are the sole body-con elements of the collection; pointelle detailing quietly bisects the two tees. A voluminous painter's shirt in barely-there cotton completes the contrast of silhouettes. To round out any look, a twisted pant in off-white Japanese denim—worn low for a boyfriend fit—slips on with ease.
And in true Lemaire style, the finishing touch is achieved with understatement: a pair of golden hoop earrings in a distended teardrop form, or a frosted-glass pair in purposely mismatched cocoon shapes. The latter (hand-blown in France) is exclusive to The Line, and represents the design duo's keenness for nature's imperfections. This earring, perhaps, speaks best to Lemaire and Tran's approach to Spring 2018, which they explained succinctly after their show: "poetry in reality."