French couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier is stepping down as artistic director of the luxury ready-to-wear brand Hermes after seven years to concentrate on his own projects, the group announced Thursday.

From autumn-winter 2011, Gaultier will be replaced by French designer Christophe Lemaire. Gaultier's last collection for Hermes for spring-summer 2011 will be presented in October 2010, the group added.

"After seven fruitful years of creation, Hermes and Jean-Paul Gaultier have decided to end their collaboration, Jean-Paul Gaultier wishing to concentrate on his own projects," it said in a communique.

Hermes thanked Gaultier "for his remarkable creative input over these seven years."

Hermes remains the second biggest shareholder in Gaultier's own house after the designer himself, holding 45 percent of the shares.

The Lacoste and Devanlay group confirmed Lemaire's departure as artistic director "by mutual agreement". His last collection for the group will be presented in New York Fashion Week.

Lacoste will announce a successor by the end of the year whose task will be to bring "a new stylistic look to rejuvenate the label, reconquer the womenswear market and boost business, particularly in the United States" the group said in a communique.

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