Gaultier Leaves Hermes, Replaced By Lacoste Designer


They say all good things come to an end, but we never thought we’d see the day when the outlandishly creative Jean-Paul Gaultier would leave his job as creative director of Hermes’ women’s ready-to-wear division.

WWD reports that Gaultier, who’s had the job for seven years, will be replaced by Lacoste’s Christophe Lemaire. The company says Gaultier will show a spring 2011 collection for Hermes in October, and that it will hold on to its 45 percent share in Gaultier’s eponymous brand.

Lemaire is known as the man who revamped Lacoste, using the company’s famous alligator on many of his products and garments. His work there dramatically increased the company’s sales and recognition, and got more people interested in the brand. His sportswear is famously wearable and, well, obviously not as intimidating to customers as some of Gaultier’s work — which errs on the side of avant garde. It wouldn’t be that surprising if Hermes hired Lemaire to try to replicate the impact he had at Lacoste.

No one is saying why Gaultier is leaving, but we have a sneaking suspicion the move wasn’t his choice. BusinessWeek comes the closest to giving an actual reason for his departure.

Gaultier’s exit marks the end of a formal arrangement that began when Jean-Louis Dumas, former president and chief executive officer of Hermes, signed the designer up to bring new blood to the maker of luxury handbags and silk ties. Dumas died this month at the age of 72.

We’re sad to see Gaultier go, but maybe this will mean he’ll have more time to focus on his own line — provided Hermes keeps its promise to remain its main shareholder, that is.

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