Christophe Lemaire, who has served as the creative director of womenswear at Hermès since 2010, will be leaving the Paris-based design house in the fall. Having spent ten years at Lacoste prior to his Hermès appointment and with an eponymous label under his belt, Lemaire will reportedly now focus his efforts on that namesake collection after showing his final collection for Hermès during Paris Fashion Week in October. Lemaire, who took over from Jean-Paul Gaultier as the brand's artistic director of womenswear, has been touted as the "secret of Hermès' success", as Vogue put it last year. Moreover, in March, the Paris-based design house, famous for its Birkin and Kelly bags, reported its best ever operating margin - 32.4 per cent - and saw net income rise by 6.8 per cent. It is not yet clear who would replace Lemaire.
"Hermès has got strong heritage and an image of timeless elegance that is quite independent from the designer," said Bernstein luxury goods analyst Mario Ortelli. Hermès, built into a successful global brand by family descendent Jean-Louis Dumas who died in 2010, said Lemaire would leave after presenting his last collection at Paris Fashion Week in October. "My own label is growing in an important way and I now really want and need to dedicate myself to it fully," Christophe Lemaire said in a joint statement with Hermès. The company's chief executive officer Axel Dumas said he was grateful to Lemaire, adding: "Under his artistic direction the métier has renewed its aesthetic and produced very satisfactory financial results. I wish him the greatest success with his own label which is so close to his heart".
This is not the only role switch at Hermès in the recent past. In February, the house's CEO, Patrick Thomas, retired with Axel Dumas, who was previously co-CEO, assuming the chief executive responsibilities. Thomas joined the house as the first non-family member to manage the business in 1989, in the position of managing director. He left in 1997, but rejoined in 2003 after a stint at whisky company, William Grant & Sons.