After four years heading up womenswear at Hermès, Christophe Lemaire is leaving the French heritage house to focus on his eponymous label. Spring ’15, which will walk down the runway in Paris this October, will be his final collection for the brand. “Working for Hermès has been a great pleasure, a profoundly enriching experience on both a human and professional level. I am proud of what we have built together. My own label is growing in an important way, and I now really want and need to dedicate myself to it fully,” offered Lemaire, who replaced Jean Paul Gaultier when he took the reins in 2010. “I am very grateful to Christophe for the passion with which he has addressed and enriched the expression of our house in women’s ready-to-wear. Under his artistic direction, the métier has renewed its aesthetic and produced very satisfactory financial results,” said Hermès CEO Axel Dumas in a statement.
Now, of course, the guessing games will begin as to Lemaire’s successor. Hermès might argue that its brand is less dependent than most on having a “star” designer, and in recent months the house has been increasingly keen to raise the profile of Bali Barret, who, as artistic director of the women’s “universe,” oversees a number of the métiers, including the womenswear. Still, it’s intriguing to think what would happen if certain big-name designers took the helm or if Hermès was to go the route that Loewe recently took of hiring an up-and-coming talent like Jonathan Anderson. On the other hand, there were always those in the industry who felt it was Helmut Lang’s ultimate destiny to alight at the French luxury firm. That seems unlikely, but stay tuned.