On the hottest day imaginable in Paris, Christophe Lemaire presented a collection with his signature chilly minimalism and cool crispness. As we sweated on the front row his models walked poised in easy separates.
Lemaire has been excelling in his role as artistic director at Uniqlo’s new R&D Centre in Paris - where smart young people dream up new versions of 'life wear' - for a year now, after being appointed in June 2016. The hardworking nature of the garments that the ubiquitous Japanese retailer supplies has clearly rubbed off. Today’s collection’s felt more utilitarian, more approachable. The story was key pieces - a love affair with wardrobe building blocks. Garments were less billowy than recent seasons. Lemaire always deals with staples, rather than statements, but this S/S 18 offer was more than ever informed by the key purchases of the modern man. Here were items that could be slotted into any wardrobe. That 'pick and mix' mentality informed the styling. This was a two tone moment - most looks united two distinct hues. He’d been somewhat looser with the palette - opting for vaguely eighties hues and a retro print.
Here, Lemaire was, in a nod to old-school fashion shows, presenting a wardrobe - a set of solutions to furnish the man of today with everything he could need. A run of suits at the end - the classic formal moment to round off a show - offered something for work, but there were lots that would be ideal for play. A techy gilet smacked most strongly of the effect of Uniqlo on this sharp-eyed designer. The precision was the same, but there was a new openness at Lemaire for S/S 18.