I try not to read emails in bed. But this morning I broke my rule because it's Monday, and I figured a few tragic news stories would be the motivation I'd need to move into an upright position. But I didn't even make it to TheSkimm before several emails announcing Christophe Lemaire's departure from Hermès provided the jolt.
As Dhani reported, the breakup doesn't seem too messy: Hermès's recent earnings reports show that Lemaire's critically lauded designs were selling well, and Lemaire says that he simply wants to focus on his own label. There is certainly more to the story, but possibly not much.
Lemaire's departure may be relatively free of drama, but the search for his replacement -- if it's not already over -- is certain to kick off a round of change-ups at the luxury houses that will likely take place before the September shows. (Or maybe during them. The Europeans love to make crazy announcements during Paris Fashion Week, too.) An email I received last week from a well-placed French source included info about Lemaire's exit, as well as juicy details about a few other big houses. Supposedly, the creative director of a major Italian brand is finally exiting. That person is to be replaced by a designer whose work for his storied French house is often sensational but maybe not so profitable. (One of the reasons I'm being vague is that this designer does enjoy spreading rumors about himself to make his bosses nervous, so as a journalist, you can't be too sure until the press release hits the wires.)
To be sure, late summer is a great time for luxury conglomerates to make power moves. Half of Europe is on holiday, which means there is less chatter and fewer people are paying attention, which consequently means (hopefully) there's also less interest from shareholders. So even if that aforementioned exit and appointment don't happen, and Lemaire's replacement takes six months and not six weeks, there are sure to be changes before Labor Day.
To me, the most compelling subject is still Olivier Theyskens, who left Theory in June. He has to be going somewhere -- maybe Hermès? Maybe another big French house? -- because he's too talented and beloved to sit idle. Wherever Theyskens lands, it will cause a wave much stronger than any vacationing luxury exec can catch on the beach.