My love affair with Jacquemus has finally been cemented. Back in February, floods of images graced my Instagram feed from Paris Fashion Week, but the catchers of the eye were those grounded by a rose-coloured runway. Upon it – a juxtaposed clothing series of black, white, navy, and the odd injection of pastel pink. An inherent sense of ‘Frenchness’ made its way along the soft-hued river – models were dressed in a neutral palette and exhibited all characteristics that come with the term chic – but it had all been pushed to its boundary. It goes without saying – for Jacquemus, everything has always been a little excessive. But not to the point of deeming it unwearable. Quite the opposite, in fact. That point is becoming further hemmed with each new collection exhibited. So what was it in February that affirmed my growing love? The accessory carried by a selection of the women: le sac rond.
It eclipsed the runway. Quite literally through its shape – ‘the round bag’ is a totally apt title for an accessory that spectates an infinite circle. Join an exaggeratively curved top handle with an interlinking gold chain embellishment – and you have the heartbreaker of all bags. Not to mention the silver-plated brand logo in its bottom right corner, and a fine finishing of suede. It stormed the runway – granted, through the seductive steps of its chosen model – but she was quite clearly loving her new ally. Separation was out of the question. It resembled an extension of her hand – of which, upon seeing, you couldn’t imagine her without. It was paired with some tightly ruffled cropped trousers, a pastel pink deconstructed jacket and a black cloche hat fitting for The Handmaid’s Tale. All in all – a strikingly surreal silhouette. And through it being so, the look brought with it a solidification of all things charming that defines a woman.
“Join an exaggeratively curved top handle with an interlinking gold chain embellishment – and you have the heartbreaker of all bags”
That claim can be made for all things under the name of Jacquemus, for everything is purely pleasant and welcoming. That is in part down to the clothing and in part down to the designer himself. Simon Porte Jacquemus solidifies his branding through his playful Instagram bio – a capitalised proclamation of his love for ‘blue and white, stripes, sun, fruit, roundness, poetry, Marseille and the 80s’. All of those modes of affection are prominent in his label – but, to the surprise of many, the Provence born 27-year-old is largely self-taught. He started showing his women’s collections back in 2009 at the age of 19, developing the standout identity of Jacquemus (his mother’s maiden name) whilst subsequently working in retail at a Comme des Garçons boutique in Paris. His label is grounded in the admiration of his mother – so it’s only natural that the ever-present themes align with her. What are they? Familial love, friendliness and playfulness, in short. The perception on how a child views things during the innocent stages of life is what you always see in some way – with overblown structures, large geometric shapes and the odd exuberant pattern. And, through the staging of a show, those child-friendly perceptions unveil like a storybook.
It goes without saying: for any designer, a strong visual narrative is key. That achievement is always sustained in Jacquemus’s collections, yet it is done so strongly that it is difficult to distinguish between what you’re seeing: clothes in reality or clothes in wonderland? “I don’t do clothes – I do stories,” Simon says. That is for certain – each season exhibits a fresh dose of womanhood, with inspiration deriving from his provincial, sun-kissed, wholly natural background. Take his latest Spring/Summer collection: “LA BOMBA”. Goodwill pulsed throughout – with golden finished models strutting along the black and white tiled floors of Paris’ famed Picasso Museum. It was the first time the acclaimed artistic landmark has staged a fashion show, and you couldn’t quite blame the halls for waiting, for Jacquemus was worth it. Clothes blended in with the setting – block, earthly-toned mini dresses screamed for the beach and the long for summer. The provincial harvest woman was upon attendees too – a black fitted v-neck and dusty brown wrap skirt were paired with ceramic, shape-based sandals. The implications? Naturalism and charm – both evident odes to the designer’s mother (which I recently compared to Van Gogh’s Girl in White painting for British Vogue). Jacquemus’s ability to breathe art into his clothing equally amounts to his stylish injections of excessiveness. Skirt hems remained undetermined, rushing up randomly to look purposely lopsided. Hats of the year from his “MARSEILLE JE T’AIME” collection were further amplified – fitting to the narrative of the “LA BOMBA” beauty.
“Jacquemus’s ability to breathe art into his clothing equally amounts to his stylish injections of excessiveness”
And back to what I hailed at the beginning of this post: le sac rond. It comes from Jacquemus’s current Autumn/Winter collection – available to purchase from only a few stores including Dover Street Market, Browns, Matches, and the brands very own online boutique. As an accessory, it fits in with a collection founded on totally fresh Frenchness. Oversized and curved shoulders, tiny corseted waists, slightly flared cropped trousers, ruffled shirts – it was all there and it was all finished in the Parisienne’s colour palette. As for the modern take on his modes of patriotic dressing? A surrender of surrealism. It’s required for staging a story about a woman holding an overwhelming desire for a gypsy, as the designer described. But she will never fully be able to cater herself to the lifestyle, for she parades pure couture. That’s the continual sensibility of the designer’s creations, despite them being ready to wear at a more accessible price.
“She parades pure couture”
So to point towards the title of this post: why is Jacquemus my current favourite designer? The answer lies in the consistent characteristic of the woman he so variably portrays: charm. No matter what story she is placed in, her presence always draws one in. For men – it exhibits her as a gracious debonair. Debonair because she holds masculine traits through her impeccable yet excessively tailored clothing. And for women? It’s likely that all females will wish to experience life through her ever-changing-but-ever-charming lens. She enjoys each day with a playful perspective. Wearing the label is like wearing a cinematic mask, one that rejects any form of negativity present in our current times. Aren’t we all desiring that escape occasionally?
Photography by Eve Parsons
Shop Jacquemus here
How has Jacquemus re-vamped Van Gogh? Discover in my piece for British Vogue here