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Lemaire's East-German Nerds

Lemaire's ode to Berlin was an endorsement of a designer who understands the way a particular kind of menswear works for the particular man who wants to wear it.
Lemaire Spring/Summer 2018 | Source: Indigital
By
  • Tim Blanks

PARIS, France — Pre-show, Christophe Lemaire said his collection was more simple than ever. Then he admitted that made him anxious. "Does it stand for itself?", he wondered. It was a valid question. When does simple cross the line to boring? That's always been the challenge for designers like Lemaire who work the minimal side of the tracks. He cast his eye over the sea of grey in his new collection and admitted that what others might find super-boring, he found super-exciting.

I suggested that narrative was always a stimulant. Create a story. Former DJ Lemaire said he was inspired by Berlin, and by German bands like La Dusseldorf and Neu. “German nerd” was the reference point he offered. “East German nerd,” I added, as we looked at clothes that had a distinctly utilitarian, industrial edge: pants cut high in the waist, shirts blouse-y, sandals that were based on footwear from the Czechoslovakian army, or boots that looked like the Tabi worn by Japanese street-workers. But then there was the rest: the floaty coats that have always been a Lemaire strongpoint, the stark suits that were cut from delicious chintz, the shirts in soft, dry silk. Ultimately, it wasn’t really nerd-normal.

And then came the show, with the Berlin duo Die Wilde Jagd performing an extended Neu-like improv while models walked in all those outfits just mentioned. And the clothes absolutely came alive. An argument for fashion shows as a live medium, obviously, but also an endorsement of a designer who understands the way a particular kind of menswear works for the particular man who wants to wear it. Colour me an East-German nerd.

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