Christophe Lemaire unveils his first Uniqlo U collection this afternoon. The event promises to be one of the few sequin- and feather-free zones in Paris, where we’re in day four of the haute couture shows. Following Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino, it’s bound to be a popular destination. Lemaire’s two-season collaboration with Uniqlo was successful enough that they’ve hired him for a full-time position as the artistic director of a new Paris-based R&D center. The Fashion Week night last Fall in which the collab arrived in Uniqlo’s Right Bank store was bonkers, with editors, bloggers, and various other insiders snapping up multiples of the boat-neck sweaters and belted cardigans.
Uniqlo U promises to be different. “As a collaboration, Uniqlo and Lemaire was more an expression of our brand within the Uniqlo concept,” the designer said. “The Uniqlo U line is built from a very Uniqlo point of view, it is rooted in the very DNA of Uniqlo, elevated basics, an ideal version of Uniqlo. From the very beginning, we had this slogan from Charles and Ray Eames in mind: ‘The best for the most for the least.’ ”
Judging by the lookbook pictures, the Uniqlo U basics for men and women run from hoodies and drawstring-waist pants to puffer jackets and more excellent knits. Color plays a starring role. If the invitation is anything to go on, so do “comfort, function, innovation, quality, and simplicity.” Think of it as a more sophisticated version of the brand’s LifeWear line.
“As a designer interested in everyday life, in bringing solutions to feel good in your clothes, in trying to bring style and quality to the people, in making good clothes that could become like ‘good friends,’ I can only be excited to work for a brand that has this amazing capacity to make good quality affordable,” Lemaire continued. “I feel very lucky. It is a logical progression in my professional life. When I was a student I was already very much interested in industrial design. Uniqlo is industrial design at its best.”
Quite the opposite of haute couture, then, but here’s betting the juxtaposition serves it well. The collection will arrive in stores in October.
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