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the sun, sea, and sex of jacquemus spring/summer 18

Steve Salter

Rosy-cheeked models floated down the catwalk in a collection best described as the feeling "when you go out for a walk just after just making love."

This article was originally published by i-D UK.

"I was looking at a photograph of my mother walking through the port one summer," Simon Porte Jacquemus explained, surrounded by cameras, well-wishers, and his memory-kissed models. "She had a scarf around her head, ceramic earrings, and a wrap tied around her. She was always smiling and happy." Immersing himself in this vivid nostalgia for the sea, the sun, the sheer sexiness of his native south of France, Simon Porte Jacquemus transported the crowd inside the Musée Picasso — a cultural institution never before used for fashion — on a summer getaway to his homeland.

"I don't just do clothes, I write a story and then come the clothes," Simon Porte Jacquemus explained to i-D back in 2014. It's a design process that has propelled this self-taught talent from staging guerrilla presentations to winning the Special Jury LVMH Prize. "I write a script with characters — what she's going to do, what kind of perfume she wears, what kind of place she bathes in..." Many of these stories are tightly woven around memories of his mother. For Simon, everything leads back to Valérie Jacquemus.

When she passed away after a car accident aged just 42, Simon, who had been struggling at college in Paris, suddenly knew what to do. The trauma was his propellant, his creative epiphany. Using his mother's maiden name, Jacquemus, Simon has since designed for the girl his mother was. "People still stop me in the village and say, 'Your mother was so beautiful'", he added in the courtyard post-show. "It will always be about her, I don't care! That's me."

So, for spring/summer 18 the narrative invited us to see through Simon's eyes and watch his beautiful mother take a stroll along the coast. We could almost taste the sea air and feel the summer's breeze as he stripped away Jacquemus' signature stiff construction and concentrated on the flou, the floaty draping — "I really tried to be lighter," he explained — and the unexpected accessory. "Evenings we would go for a walk around the port, past the souvenir shops filled with earrings, ceramics, sarongs, and headbands. That's the woman I wanted to talk about this season. La bombe, as we say in the South."

Fun, sexy and happy, Jacquemus's woman sashayed and smiled her way through the space, appropriating souvenirs along the way. From the major shade affording oversized sunhats to the mismatched earrings and contrasting memento heels, the narrative was compelling.

Jacquemus also delivered the best sarong moment since David Beckham wore one in June 1998, coincidently to a restaurant in the south of France. Here, amidst the tanned thighs-for-days, barely-nipple-covered-slips, deliciously disheveled drapes, and post-sex contentment, Simon showcased the ultimate 90s tribute by teaming a sarong with a flesh hued midriff that was adorned with a mock belly-button piercing. Now there's an image that we both remember. It shouldn't have worked but it most certainly did.

While fun and flirty, this collection also demonstrated Simon's astute business eye too. His designs might all be about his mother but they appeal to a growing number of girls too.
"People have begun to know my shoes for their different heels, the bags too are mismatched so the earrings had to be wrong too," he explained when discussing the contrasting embellishments throughout the collection.

Not only is he known for them, he's coveted for them too. We have only been in Paris for a matter of hours and have since seen countless incarnations of clearly identifiable Jacquemus shoes and accessories. "I looked around my mother's house — the handles, the door-keys, the curtain rails, the plants even. I took elements from all over." Now, that is Jacquemus's great talent and why his designs are so appealing, he can take unexpected and unusual elements from all over and repackage them with such a sense of personality and playful balance.