We haven’t seen a Jacquemus collection since last summer. Just like some other brands, Simon Porte Jacquemus decided to ditch the traditional fashion calendar even further, getting closer to the “see-now-buy-now” model. His autumn-winter 2021 collection is already available on the label’s e-shop. Another change? The designer seems to leave behind his favourite sun-drenched, South of France theme, and takes a slightly more serious, utilitarian path this season. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still undeniably Jacquemus. Just a bit more streamlined and approachable. “The smell was like fresh grass. There were sounds like little birds when you went in. I wanted to make it like a green and blue bubble—nature but unreal. Like you go in, and you find yourself somewhere else.” The IRL show was called “La Montagne”, a title which set up the anticipation that it might have literally taken a crowd to the French Alpes-Maritimes, or another outdoor spectacular such as the epic lavender-field Provençal runway show he organized in 2019. But, no. Porte Jacquemus exclaimed: “That’s exactly why I didn’t want to do a mundane location or anything. I think a lot of people are doing crazy shows outside and I didn’t want to do the race of the most crazy spots of the planet. Because I wanted to focus on the clothes and on the design, and not repeat myself, into like a perfect formula.” In other words: Porte Jacquemus is still young enough to want to be a contrarian, to be the person who never gets caught into a trend or a stereotype. There was a lot of lockdown time with his team to think about how that would shape up. Giantly and tinily was the answer, a surreally playful over-and-under proportioning of garments. “The collection started really with the frustration of corona,” he said. “We had the option, you know, to repeat ourselves, to do a perfect jacket and a nice linen dress and stuff. That’s nice, it’s beautiful, but we were super-frustrated, so we wanted to explore more.” Notionally, the Montagne of his title might resonate with everyone who’s been on that vertiginous, lonely hike through isolation from friends all this time. In practice, it wasn’t at all about athleisure. “Because I know Patagonia does much better hiking clothes than us,” he said, laughing. “Because we’re a small brand doing fashion, and we wanted to mix that with, like French couture elements. So it was between that, and the naive, happy Jacquemus of before.” It was shot in profile, video-wise, mini and maxi pieces in the same outfit, randomly framing lots of skin. Cropped puffers and abbreviated tailored jackets over bras strung together with widely placed clips – abs on show, triangular slices of inner knee on show, all popping with shots of fuchsia, orange, red. Cool, not overly demanding, easy – sometimes you just need that.
After weeks of digital presentations, Jacquemus‘ spring-summer 2021 IRL show was a truly heart-warming sight. An audience of 100 guests – mainly French press, house friends and family of Simon Porte Jacquemus – were ferried to a gently rolling wheat field near Us in the French Vexin Regional National Park, about an hour outside Paris. After hundreds of Instagram posts, you surely know what the venue looked like. It was a visual dream, a bit like a more sober sister of last year’s lavender field fantasy. Before the lockdown hit France, the designer had been in touch with the dancer Alexander Ekman. Needless to say, everything changed at that point, but the reference remained. During a pre-show interview, Jacquemus said he wanted his collection to talk of love and celebration, “like a simple country wedding or a harvest festival.” Ultimately, he named the collection “L’Amour,” a declaration of love for his team and updated it with Provençal references such as hand-made ceramics, grandmother’s tablecloth and berry picking (actual strawberries were inside Aaron Altaras’ basket-bag). The collection itself was quintessentially Jacquemus: a variety of dresses that channel the Southern French girl, made in all sizes; for boys, Picasso-meet-Miro motifs and cut-out hearts on over-sized tailoring. A toned, sun-washed palette of clay and ecru looked summer-perfect, although I must admit I love Jacquemus most when he’s induldging in bolder colours. As usual, accessories are the sure best-sellers: fun earrings (a bar of Marseille soap!), leather accessories like a harness for a single plate, or the new Chiquito Noeud, a variation on the house bestseller. Last year, Simon dialed down to two shows per year, and this decision was definitely a good one. It’s not only a sustainable step, but it also lets the designer execute his vision to the fullest. And a live show is a live show, after all. “For me, the runway can’t be a video. It’s at the heart of what we do; it’s not superficial. It’s important to all of us to continue, just like a restaurant that reopens. It’s like a movie of a summer day. It’s our life.” That’s an inspiring dose of optimism for the uncertain times.
Jacquemus‘ spring-summer 2020 collection was a dream. Remember that vibrant pink runway going through field of purple lavender, under the gorgeously bright blue Provençal sky? Of course you do. “I wanted something sophisticated but at the same time as light as a cocktail in summer,” Simon Porte Jacquemus said back then. The above look – a pistacchio-green blazer, candy-pink ribbed top, white linen culottes and straw hat – says it all: spring is here. Yes, it’s a pity we can’t fully enjoy it under current circumstances. Still, open the window wide open, see the flowers bloom, hear the birds singing! Trying to stay positive.
Last season‘s Provençal dream is hard to beat. So, in a way, Simon Porte Jacquemus didn’t intend to make his autumn-winter 2020 even more extraordinary and Instagrammable. Not meaning it was modest or small – showing at La Defense stadium with Laetitia Casta, the Hadids and a pack of supermodels isn’t really a quiet gesture. But design-wise, Jacquemus returned to the core of his style: it’s sleeker, cleaner, less quirky, toned (except for the brief splash of bold pink). And incredibly sexy (without being vulgar): the body-conscious fit, cropped cardigans, wrapped micro-skirts, thigh-high boots are just some of the “hot” piece. Guys followed girls in pants, which appeared to have their flies open (a trompe l’oeil). There were oversized blazers and roomy coats for both women and men, creating a sense of concealed sensuality. While we all got used to Jacquemus’ sun-drenched, French flavor, it’s good to see designers go out of their (already succesful) comfort zones. The backstory behind the collection was as personal and profound as it could be: “I was seven when I made a skirt out of a curtain for my mother, and she brought me to school wearing it.” The linen pencil skirt, which opened the show on Casta, was a personal memento of that, and the reason the fabric was an anchor for the collection. But business-wise, Porte Jacquemus realized that he could use his buying power to change things with his fabric manufacturer. “We’ve been working with them for 10 years, but they didn’t have a sustainable fabric that we wanted. Now, they do – because of the size of the order I can make. But you know,” he said with a smile, “what I want to say is, it isn’t just for ecology, it’s also people—their rhythm of work also has to have sense. I don’t say I’m a green brand or anything like that; it’s not marketing. But I think we have to think more like my grandparents did: like, we have tomatoes in the garden, so we eat tomatoes.” Wise words for the industry to consider.
Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.
France, sun, love. Jacquemus.
The tale of Jacquemus is one of the most inspiring and joyful stories of 2010’s fashion. A boy from the South of France made the entire industry lose its mind for XXL straw hats, hilariously small bags, cheerful polka-dots and dresses that mentally transport you to the beach in any season. Simon Porte Jacquemus started from scratch, staging his first fashion show in a public swimming pool in Paris. With every season, his style got refined and the collections expanded at an organic pace. From the spectacular La Santons de Provence show, which was all about the designer’s love for his sun-drenched home, to the spring-summer 2020 line-up staged in the middle of a Provençal field, every collection Jacquemus delivers keeps on getting better. From all the emerging labels that took off in the 2010s, Jacquemus is the biggest star!