Christophe Lemaire Is Leaving Hermès

French fashion designer Christophe Lemaire  for Hermes acknowledges the audience at the end of the Hermes 2014/2015 Autumn/Winter ready-to-wear collection fashion show, on March 5, 2014 in Paris.   AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT        (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

After four years with the luxury house, Christophe Lemaire is leaving Hermès.Women’s Wear Daily reports that his upcoming spring-summer 2015 collection for the label will be his last. While at Hermès, Lemaire — who had previously served as artistic director of Lacoste — designed many critically acclaimed collections, and seems to have led the company to financial gain as well (its revenues were up 15.8 percent in the first quarter of 2014).

Lemaire’s comments seemed to indicate that he’s leaving to focus on his eponymous label. Said the designer, “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.”

CEO Axel Dumas added, “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.”

Things sound fairly amicable between the two. Bets on his successor start now.

LVMH and Hermès Kiss and Make Up

Photo: Nathan Alliard/Photononstop/Corbis

After four years of discord, luxury giant LVMH has settled its differences with Hermès,The Wall Street Journal reports today. After LVMH took a stake in its competitor, eventually coming to own 23 percent of the company, the latter took things to commercial court. Under the terms of the just-reached agreement, LVMH will redistribute its stake and promises not to buy shares in Hermès, which is committed to remaining independent. (At one point in the conflict, then-CEO Patrick Thomas unfortunately compared the buyout attempts to “rape.” Can people just stop making that comparison, please?)

Hermès Bandit Bandanas: For the Stylish Cowgirl

Hermès silk scarves are legendary: At this point, they’re an uncontested classic, both in fashion and in pop culture. So imagine our surprise upon learning that the house would be releasing, for the first time, little bandana squares (55 cm to be exact) in 23 colorful options. Each monocromatic scarf mixes equestrian Western elements with Hermès playfulness. Little stars, spurs, and lassos abound in graphic tableaus; there’s even some obligatory French spelled out in rope (les canyons étoiles — the starry canyons!). And at $195, it’s a smart price for something so versatile — wear it bandit style, tied to a handbag strap, or tucked in a jean pocket. As with all scarves, the possibilities are endless. Click on to see our favorites.

Hermès Officially Appoints a New Designer

Looks like those rumors swirling yesterdaywere well-founded. Hermès has, in fact, hired Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski to replace Christophe Lemaire as creative director at the house. WWD reports that the little-known 36-year-old designer, a veteran of The Row, Céline, and Maison Martin Margiela, will take over after Lemaire shows his final collection for the brand. “Her talent and her creative track record will be great assets in the continued development of women’s ready-to-wear,” CEO Axel Dumas told the paper. “She will devote herself full-time to our house,” he added — perhaps referring to the fact that Lemaire is leaving to work on his namesake line.

Inside the Chic Universe of Hermès Scarves

An Hermès silk scarf is one of those wardrobe classics, worn by generations of women and yet still totally easy to style today. This week, the brand launched La Maison des Carrés, an interactive menagerie that allows you to explore its vast array of silk scarves — 600, to be exact — in every color, fabric, and size. The website works like a fancy video game, with each room playing up the theme or mood of a new scarf.

As Bali Barret, artistic director of the women’s division, put it, the site “tells the story of Hermès silk in an entertaining and unconventional way.” But — especially with adizzyingly detailed scarf app — we think it’s the perfect way to spend a lunch hour. Click through the slideshow to see our favorites, and check it out at

The Best Designers Transport Us

Photo: Imaxtree

Sometimes fashion takes us far, far away in the fantastical sense, and in other cases the journey is one you must make on, say, a crowded Paris highway. In the case of Louis Vuitton’s show yesterday morning, an advance email informed showgoers that the event would take place somewhere outside the city. As the panic began to set in — where, exactly, was this far-flung location? — the savvier types quickly realized that the Frank Gehry–designed Fondation Louis Vuitton, which has yet to open to the public, was the clear candidate. And so the fashion pack journeyed out into the wild — well, the Bois de Boulogne, the wooded park on the city limits, clutching our telltale lipstick-red pochettes that held the invite.

Inside the spectacular venue, whose falling-water feature was easily the Instagram moment of the day, a video of a heterogenous group of models speaking eerily in unison delivered the message: “The LV house wants to explore the ability to travel to any part of the universe without moving. The journey starts here.” But the collection felt indubitably French: It took up where fall’s bourgeois romp left off, though the feeling was more casual, especially in the case of its rampant use of denim. Ghesquière revived his leather miniskirt from last season, this time in snappy, shiny patent. The tony inhabitants of neighboring Neuilly-sur-Seine would go wild for the high-necked lace pieces that strike a balance between concealing and revealing. And the designer even good-naturedly mocked conspicuous consumption via sports cars, nail polish, and vacuums. It was only fitting that Catherine Deneuve, who incarnated she-only-seems-frigid bourgeois womanhood in Belle de Jour, was looking on. Just call it “Severine on the School Run.”

“You can take me for a long walk on the beach, but don’t touch me.” Those words echoed over the soundtrack at Miu Miu, and seemed significant, as every detail of a Miuccia Prada production is. As the brand’s customary row of starlets looked on — this season, Shailene Woodley, Hailee Steinfeld, Léa Seydoux, and a glowing pregnant Liv Tyler — models semi-disguised ruffled crop tops and feminine midi skirts under oversize trenches, as if they were girls sneaking out of the house to go nightclubbing, dying to look sexy but not entirely confident about it.

The final show of the day, Hermès, provided a nice chance to see the Jardin de Luxembourg on a beautiful not-quite-fall day, with kids petting miniature horses and adults hitting the tennis courts. The house chose the park’s orangerie, which used to hold its orange trees and today made a lovely backdrop for Christophe Lemaire’s final collection for the house. (He’ll be replaced by Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, a veteran ofCéline and the Row.)

Lemaire got a big hand from the crowd and a partial standing ovation from his well-wishers, and he should have: The quiet, simple collection epitomized everything Hermès is known for. The draped, monastic looks in pure white, on-brand scarf prints and a variant on the house’s signature orange featured a restful quality: the perfect note on which to end the frantic circus that is PFW.

People Are Convinced Their Birkin Bags Smell Like Weed

Today in first-world problems, people who have purchased $20,000 Hermès Birkin bagstell “Page Six” they are dissatisfied, because they claim the bags reek of marijuana. According to the column, the odor is caused by a shipment of “badly tanned” leather that reacts to heat. A source told “Page Six”: “Owners are returning the Hermès bags back to boutiques across the US, including the Madison Avenue store, saying they smell of skunk. The bags are being sent back to Paris as nobody knows quite how to deal with this embarrassing situation.” Hey, a classic bag that gives you a contact high is a winner in our book.

Read All of Cathy Horyn’s Fashion Month Reviews in One Place

This fashion month marked Cathy Horyn’sfirst season as the Cut’s critic-at-large, and she spent it delivering her signature discerning commentary on the industry’s biggest names and most-promising talents. Here’s the full list of all of her reviews from New York and Paris — including musings on the way that social media is changing the industry, the staleness of celebrity front-row saturation, and plenty of new designers to keep an eye on.

• On Nicolas Ghesquière’s exhilarating, innovative designs at Louis Vuitton and Sarah Burton’s successful embrace of intimacy (and move away from masks) atAlexander McQueen.

• On Karl Lagerfeld’s brasserie blockbuster atChanel, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s “too-tasteful” debut for Hermès, and the unexciting vintage inspirations behind Giambattista Valli and Givenchy.

• On Rei Kawakubo’s powerful bereavement-themed Comme des Garçons sculpturesand Junya Watanabe’s stunning economy of design.

• On Phoebe Philo’s hard-core questioning of glamour and authenticity for Céline and Jonathan Anderson’s inventive overhaul of Loewe.

• On John Galliano’s failed modernist mash-up at Margiela, Alexander Wang’s parody of couture glamour for Balenciaga, and Raf Simons’s sublime, simple silhouettes for Dior.

• On the stale celebrity scene at Balmain, Dries Van Noten’s modern, funny, grasp on elegance, and Rick Owens’s rough-and-ready drapery.

• On the rise of mobile fashion — and why it’s making the industry flatter.

• On Tom Ford’s all-American L.A. ambush.

• On Ralph Lauren’s dated consistency, Marc Jacobs’s rebellion against streetwear, and Francisco Costa’s commendable use of textures for Calvin Klein.

• On Proenza Schouler’s freeing approach to tailoring, Michael Kors’s reinvention of Wasp-y classics, and Sophie Theallet’s sensational work with gold lace.

• On finding Rodarte both “awfully bad and awfully good,” Peter Copping’s promising debut for Oscar de la Renta, and the lack of cool at J.Crew.

• On Thom Browne’s trip to a Mafia funeral, Eckhaus Latta’s commentary on the sadness of being young in New York, and the resurgence of Zoran-like styles at The Rowand the Brock Collection.

• On Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne and their honest approach to advancing style, Prabal Gurung’s sharp, spare dresses, and Thakoon’sabundance of fresh ideas.

• On Alexander Wang’s masterful commentary on the constraints of branding andRyan Roche’s minimalist — yet decadent — knitwear.

• On Kanye West’s flawed NYFW debut, Adam Selman’s West Side Story remake, and Gabriela Hearst’s well-thought-out “luxury without the froufrou.”

• On the thrill of returning to Fashion Week after time away — and how fashion is like “one big vagina.”

There’s a new theme every day on It’s Vintage. Read more articles on today’s topic: The Belgian Invasion.

Amid the excess of the ’80s, fashion had become an opulent spectacle propelling designers to legendary heights of acclaim. From Thierry Mugler to Jean Paul Gaultierto Ungaro and Christian Lacroix, it was a time of big clothes, big shows, and big personalities. But after the stock-market crash in 1987, the mood began to change. Subtlety and discretion started coming back into vogue. The conspicuous glamour of the ’80s was losing ground to a burgeoning intellectual appeal, and the antidote to the decade’s excess came in the form of a young Belgian phenom: Martin Margiela. He would go on to deconstruct fashion’s psyche as readily as he could dissect and reconstruct a dress. And rather than seek the limelight, anonymity would be the name of his game as he reset fashion’s rules in the postmodern climate of the 1990s and beyond.

The myth of Margiela begins in Antwerp. The early ’80s saw a new generation of designers emerging from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts; soon, they would firmly place the city on the international fashion map. The ’70s had already seen the arrival of the Italians, with designers like Walter Albini, Giorgio Armani, and Gianni Versace proving that fashion leadership was no longer the sole domain of the French. The decade also saw the manifestation of Vivienne Westwood’s punk aesthetic. As political as it was sartorial, punk challenged the bourgeois status quo of many of society’s conventions, fashion perhaps being first and foremost. By the late ’70s it was an internationally recognized subculture, surely on the radar of a young Margiela, who graduated fashion school in 1980. The following year would mark total upheaval when Rei Kawakubo andYohji Yamamoto began showing in Paris. While the designers had different outlooks, they both opposed nearly every Western idea of beauty and clothing design. Kawakubo’s clothes, appearing bleak and tattered, went against everything the fashion Establishment had stood for. Margiela and his Belgian colleagues watched as Paris was thrown into chaos and learned an invaluable lesson: Alternatives could be had.

In 1984, Margiela would officially join the studio of Jean Paul Gaultier as the enfant terrible’s assistant. Gaultier was the wunderkind talent of Paris at the time, and his provocative plays on gender and street culture were stealing the scene. Margiela’s critical thinking and keen mind would be invaluable to Gaultier, emboldening his high-energy runway antics with a subversive spirit. As Gaultier’s right hand, Margiela would get an intimate experience with the cult of personality and how it could, or couldn’t, define a designer’s success.

Leaving Gaultier in 1987, perhaps spurred by the success of his former schoolmates, now called “The Antwerp Six” (they included Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten), Margiela went out on his own, debuting his first collection in Paris in 1988. His early shows were perhaps more like art happenings than the thematic and operatic productions ’80s Paris fashion is known for. An infamous show in 1989, staged on a playground in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris, saw the local children, unrehearsed, skipping and interacting with the models. A collection in 1992 included a brass band slowly marching down the runway with the models weaving in-between them as they played. Margiela’s shows were radically personal and humanistic expressions about clothes when fashion otherwise seemed estranged from everyday realities.

The designer quickly defined a deconstructed look: garments sewn inside out, missing sleeves, raw unfinished hems — all underscored with impeccable tailoring and craftsmanship. Vaguely Dadaist, as if Marcel Duchamp were reincarnated as a fashion designer, Margiela questioned every tenet of fashion and luxury. His most daring feat? The total concealment of his identity.

As the head of his own house, Margiela refused to have his picture taken. Giving a rare interview, he answered in the plural of “we,” referring to his collections as the work of a collective. Even his labels were originally blank — recognizable only to those with consummate knowledge of the niche designer — the telltale mark of a Margiela garment being the four white tacks showing on the outside of the center back. His store, an unmarked space in Paris, its interior masked totally in white, defied the rules of retail and commerce. Everyone in his atelier, down to the designer himself, dressed anonymously in white lab coats. In some of his look books and presentations, models wore black tape over their eyes, their identities obscured (a concept that would be turned into sunglasses, allowing even the consumer to adopt a Margielan mask of their own). As much as all this  rendered him invisible it made his house stand out as anti-fashion, a burgeoning aesthetic manifested in everything from Marc Jacobs’s grunge collection for Perry Ellis to Miuccia Prada’s nylon handbags to Helmut Lang’s hypermodern streetwear. Postmodernism, alongside its conceptual cousin minimalism, reigned supreme in the ’90s.

The allure of Margiela’s anonymity would take on special meaning in 1997, whenHermès’s Jean-Louis Dumas hired the designer to oversee the firm’s women’s ready-to-wear, a decision that was utterly contrary to fashion business trends of the time. By contrast, Bernard Arnault had gone about revamping LVMH’s arsenal of aging French houses by installing attention-getting showmen at their helms: Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, John Galliano at Dior, Alexander McQueen at Givenchy and Michael Kors atCéline. It marked the beginning of a new age of celebrity designers and logomania. Dumas’s decision to hire Margiela was then considered an extremely risky move, but has since proved a stroke of genius. Margiela’s shows for Hermès were whispers in a sea of shouts, quiet explorations of  luxury that focused on classic clothes with subtle but masterful twists and enhanced the house’s reputation as a purveyor of timeless quality and discerning taste.

The cult of Margiela would be taken to task in 2002 when the designer sold his house to Only the Brave. Loyalists asked, what would become of the anti-commercial fashion house now that it was in the hands of businessmen who also managed Diesel jeans? The evolution of the Maison Martin Margiela would unfold to be one of fashion marketing’s greatest case studies. In many ways, Margiela’s years of misdirection and elusiveness would be a boon to the business. As aging designers retired or passed away, here was a house immune to the legacy issues most fashion brands suffered when it came to finding a successor and keeping the house’s aura alive. The Maison could theoretically continue on as it always did: an effort of a collective whose founder was, as far as the press could tell, as engaged or disengaged as he had ever been. But by 2009, rumors that Margiela had long since departed the house began to undermine the brand’s appeal. OTB’s Renzo Rosso finally admitted that Margiela had not been designing for some time, and news of his departure cast a shadow over the cult label. Margiela’s efforts to keep his and his house’s identity separate appeared in vain as editors and consumers perceived Margiela’s departure as a lack of vision and direction. In 2012, the Maison partnered with H&M for a “greatest hits” collection pulled from the archives. Theoretically, it was a move worthy of the house’s reputation, an attempt to turn the rules upside down and bring out its most cherished relics for the masses — but once again, it drew cries of watering-down from some corners.

Two years later, when it was announced that disgraced designer John Galliano would be put in charge as creative director, the appointment threw most of the fashion industry for a loop. But what could be more fitting for a brand known for eschewing the status quo to embrace the showman turned pariah? Galliano has said that he took the job with Martin’s blessing, urged by the Maison’s founder to “make it your own.” Perhaps the truest expression of Margiela’s legacy comes not from his successor, who’s avowedly putting his own stamp on the house, but from the clutch of Margiela alumni now making waves in Paris: Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, who is running the show at Hermès, and Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia. They are proof that the designer’s delicate ethos remains intact.

How to Smell Like a Fresh Cup of Tea

Jardin di Monsieur Li, by Hermès.

There are scents that linger in a room long after you’ve left, and then there’s Hermès’s Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, a placid fragrance that smells like diluted herbal tea. That’s not a criticism, in fact, few things are as delightful to me as a cup of mild tea. For a whiff of the jasmine, orange, and slightly minty scent, someone will need to lean very close — it’s a personal kind of fragrance. Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is subtle and can easily be worn on the wrists of both sexes. Thin, but not watered-down, it blends smartly with your body’s natural scent and feels like an extension of your own aroma. If you’re feeling bold, you could say that you’re wearing nothing at all, leaving others perpetually confused by your superhuman ability to always smell naturally fantastic.