A couple of years ago, French designer Christophe Lemaire left Lacoste and took the reins at Hermès, replacing Jean-Paul Gaultier as you may know. Withoutdrawing too firm a line between his work for the famous sellier parisien and the clothes he continues to design for his own label, there is one connection to be made : exposure to the sky's-the-limit luxury of Hermès has emboldened the designer to push his own wares to a more rarefied place. "Psychologically, it has decomplexed me", he stated, "released me from the fear of going to a higher level". He called his new collection his most precise and also his highest-quality. It's never been cut-rate stuff, but the offering was discernibly elevated by the introduction of a cashmere program and heritage fabrics like Irish donegal tweed and British felted wool (the original material for the traditional British duffel coat, here used for a stiff and substantial double-breasted overcoat). The style remains variations on Lemairean themes. While the designer professes a love for post-punk and New Wave -Ian Curtis is a constant reference- you'll never see anything as literal as a band tee here. Instead, there are nods at workwear, as in a peacoat-style dockworker's jacket, and at global traditions. The monkish silhouette the designer prefers, with loose, pleated carrot pants and streamlined, deceptively simple tops, won't win over everyone. But this was a strong sophisticated collection, and Christophe Lemaire acolytes will appreciate the uptick of its not-quite-monastic luxe. Which is not so bad at all.