What might seem as an unlikely duo is actually quite a well matched paring in my mind. Both designers utilize their tailoring skills to achieve the most precise product. Lemaire comes from the school of clean, slick and modern as only a graduate of Hermes would know and he surely delivers his vision of modern, minimal and timeless apparel for men. Van Beirendonck comes from a more conceptual/ inspirational and artistic design ethic and yet the parallels are quite apparent… to me anyway!!
Opposites do indeed attract … especially if you strip away the most blatant and obvious differences. Both designers are master tailors and if you can look past the most obvious from Beirendonck you can see how exquisite the workmanship is which and what bears comparison to Lemaire. The jackets, coats, throws, even the pants, just reek of fine tailoring. While Lemaire has a much more classic palatable/understandable approach, van Beirendonck offers a more trend driven fashion scenario. The latter is not about trend as we know it or think of it, but his own personal vision for the season. I know I keep beating that Gucci horse to death but one would not have to look much further than these two abundantly talented men who could have certainly taken the reins of that ailing brand and made some magic.
So let’s just do a quick mental review of Lemaire and take note of the surplice/ wrap tops, the edges, the precise tailoring, the minimal layering and palette, the use of the safarienne, pea jackets, cardigans, the patch pockets and the lower placement of breast pockets just to offer a few features. The throws/ ruanas/ scarves are just enough to give that chic and soigne edge to these clothes. Simple shapes are taken to the height of fashion via nuance and superb craftsmanship, fit and workmanship.
Van Beirendonck offers many of these qualities but with a greater sense of humor and even more craftsmanship if you include the conceptual pieces. So much of what he shows might be at the elevated levels of ateliers rather than just mere workrooms. The tailoring is sublime and the patterning (ikats) and novelty prints are for those us who go beyond black and grey. The full legged pant is reminiscent of Hollywood glory days and the “art” sweaters are just that… art! ... but masterpeices. These are clothes that combine fantasy and reality and offer the wearer an opportunity to stretch his imagination. Even the palette is just so inviting and off kilter than it is hard to resist if you truly love fashion.
My question is simple... Do you dare?