Lemaire Fall 2023 menswear collection

That was what the fall collections were for: a show on the terrace of the Jussieu campus of the Pierre et Marie Curie University, the medical school, on a morning so bitterly cold that immediate medical intervention seemed to be out of the question. Interestingly, we were in the same place where we once endured what seemed to be the hottest Issey Miyake menswear show ever – but this was the opposite of a first-world problem.

Our breaths rose in luxurious coils of steam, like cigarette smoke. Fingers clattered numbly against smartphones. The matcha tea on offer was practically frozen when we put it to our lips. Those who received the letter came in extra layers: those who did not wrapped themselves in blankets left on the benches. Had the spectacle that followed not proved so stunning, it might have become a hoo-ha. But Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran fashioned a mesmerizing mise-en-scene—more mammoth cinema production than fashion show—that demanded your rapt attention.

“We are always interested in showing our style in a situation that is not the usual fashion show,” said Lemaire. “We’re very inspired by cinema, music and people on the street – we’re always trying to find a balance between reality and something sublime.” That aspiration translated into a show turned the catwalk into a gathering in a public space. The first sight, a female model in a typical dark khaki coat, crossed in front of us – walking hurriedly as if she had decided to get to work before her boss and finish some dreaded task – before disappearing into the elevator. Then, from both left and right, more models arrived, walking in pairs, alone in thought, in chattering groups. One guy ran, stopped and ran again, as if he was looking for a pickpocket whom he only now realized had stolen his bill. A woman dressed all in gathered black—loose pants, heeled boots, and a short jacket with a large purse-like bag tucked at her right hip—leaned against a pillar and waited. Soon a guy moved in to start a conversation.

Somewhat confusingly for a fashion show, the same looks (and models) reappeared in different roles, as if we were watching time-lapse footage. But the format effectively sent the message that this is a collection that can work wonderfully in real life. From bird neck pendants and torch key chains, to croissant pouches and those body-hugging pouches, to pieces with instinctively psychedelic artwork printed by returning collaborator Noviadi Angkasapura, to new but retro padded garments (perfect for today), there were plenty of weathered elements to look at and admire. Particularly pleasing amid the usual black and khaki colors were swirls in a rich dark green, unusual especially in menswear.

Therefore, the fullness, drapery and silhouettes are precisely crafted to transport you – just like the format of the show – to some imagined Paris between the 1960s and now where every citizen was a star in their own impeccably costumed and undoubtedly emotionally complex film. Cold but beautiful – therefore very French.

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