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Paris Fashion Week: A new era of calm at Hermes

March 7, 2011 | 10:56 am

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After seven years of Jean Paul Gaultier at the helm, Hermes debuted a new designer, Christophe Lemaire, on Sunday. He stayed away from showing the brand's famous Birkin and Kelly bags, or almost any bags for that matter, preferring to keep focus on the clothes.

The runway show was held at the new Left Bank store, which seems to be designed to position Hermes as a lifestyle brand. There are fresh flowers and books for sale, and a tea room, in addition to the Hermes tabletop goods, clothes, scarves and jewelry. The bags are far from the focus; in fact, they are tucked away downstairs, in a small department.

Lemaire, who came from Lacoste, broke with the brand's horsy heritage, and with Gaultier's circus-like shows. There were no live horses, or tennis matches. Just calm.

He sent models down the runway at a slow, almost meditative pace, in keeping with the woo-woo quality of the zither being strummed by a guest musician from China.

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Nomads were the inspiration, and there were lots of loose-fitting coats in winter white cashmere, glazed black calfskin or blanket stripes, presumably for warding off the chill on the plateau. They were worn over high-waisted luggage brown leather trousers, or hybrid leather trouser-boots. And the famous silk print scarves were adapted into quilted coats and loose pullovers.

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For evening, silk caftans and pajama pants were easy-fitting too, in brilliant shades of red, green and orange.

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Accessories included leather caps, glossy leather orb pendants with what looked to be horsehair tassels, and the odd leather duffel or clutch, unrecognizable as Hermes.

It was a good start that should appeal to the customer in search of the quietest luxury (and perhaps, inner peace).

-- Booth Moore in Paris

PHOTOS: Hermes fall-winter 2011 runway photo gallery

Photos: Looks from the Hermes fall-winter 2011 runway collection shown during Paris Fashion Week. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson and Peter Stigter / For The Times

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