Hermès Bids Adieu to Jean-Paul Gaultier

gaultier.jpgHermès, the elegant grand-père of the luxury goods world, has long been in the habit of designating each new year with a whimsical theme (dance, the sea, Indian fantasies). As we approach the halfway mark in this, the year of “tales to be told,” we’re not liking this latest story one bit. Hermès is parting ways with Jean-Paul Gaultier, who has served as artistic director of women’s ready-to-wear since 2003, when he succeeded Martin Margiela. For the past 13 seasons, Gaultier has proven that he can channel his enfant terrible energy into more refined, worldly, and classic looks, all the while keeping his own haute couture and ready-to-wear lines bubbling with avant garde ideas (last up at the couture: Marie Antoinette goes to Mexico!). The spring 2011 Hermès ready-to-wear collection, to be shown in Paris this October, will be Gaultier’s last for the house, but Hermès will retain its 45% stake in the designer’s business. Meanwhile, Hermès is bringing aboard Christophe Lemaire to fill the artistic director post. Don’t be fooled by his candy-colored, Euro-layered knitwear for Lacoste, Lemaire has apprenticed with Christian Lacroix, Jean Patou, and Yves Saint Laurent. His own line, launched in 1991 and with a luxe basics vibe akin to that of Sweden’s Acne, provides a much better idea of what we can expect from him at Hermès.