Sonic Youth

Lacoste's main man has a solo moment with Lemaire. By Ryan Haase
There's one item you won't find in the new sportswear line, Lemaire—a polo shirt. This is no small omission, considering the designer, Christophe Lemaire, is by day the creative director of Lacoste. But Lemaire comes from a wholly different section of the designer's sketchbook. "At Lacoste, I'm immersed in their universe, there is a very strong brand DNA," he says. "At Lemaire, I'm starting from a blank page, everything is linked to my personal sensibilities and it is a lot more introverted. It's like therapy."
Designing the new label has reconnected Lemaire with his musical roots. In 1985, before making clothes, he spent nights DJing in Paris clubs. "The music scene always had so much more style than the fashion scene," he says. "It was more spontaneous, more free." He left the turntables, however, to work for Yves Saint Laurent and then Christian Lacroix. He started his first line, Christophe Lemaire, in 1990, but later shuttered it after joining Lacoste in 2000. "I didn't want to let 'Christophe Lemaire' go to waste, though. I still felt like I had something to say." As a result, he re-launched the co-ed label last year.
For spring, Lemaire envisions a '60s beach party with a scratch of new wave attitude. Women's pleated pants cinched with high, tight cuffs (perfect for running through sand) are paired with a blousy top and voluminous, whisper-weight trench coat. A mini shirtdress (perfect for pulling over a swimsuit) features a palm tree print rendered in smudged, angsty charcoal. There's a slight tension to the clothes, as though they are worn by a pale person who's trapped in the tropics, trying to avoid sunburn. "It's what Siouxsie Sioux and Ian Curtis would wear in Hawaii," suggests Lemaire. No doubt they'd appreciate the piano-key print on an unstructured sleeveless tunic, or the pastel geometric belt that obliquely recalls an '80s electric guitar.
A men's shirt in sun-faded pink has a prim cropped collar that fastens tight around the throat. Another top, splattered with bright colors, hangs breezily away from the body, with splayed lapels that reveal a louche triangle of chest. "There is a cool classicism to these items," says Lemaire. "They are essential pieces with a bit of dandyism…a stain of counter-culture."
Lemaire is available in New York at Bblessing, 181 Orchard Street, NYC; 212-378-8005. For more information, go to
Lacoste's main man has a solo moment with Lemaire.

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