Jacquemus: a self-taught rebel

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Lamu Slenis (Llamas’ Valley), November issue, page 206

“My name is Simon, I like blue and white, stripes, fruits, Marseille and the eighties”. Oh, and let’s not forget it’s all written in caps. This is how young French designer Simon Porte Jacquemus chooses to present himself in his own website. Once you click on the link, an untraditional image appears: a bunch of colorfully dressed girls, lying on each other on a bench in a pose that looks like surrealistically and meticulously arranged work of modern art, probably – a sculpture. But I’m sure Jacquemus doesn’t think of it this way. This image is part of his fun and youthful manifest of fashion, which, apparently, doesn’t take itself too seriously.

As I discussed in my previous article about fashion visionaries, the strategies that this new generation of young designers undertakes are straightforwardly anti-luxurious. Such brands as Vetements of Hood by Air have proven their point: the new fashion (or anti-fashion as sometimes you can see it labeled) movement is all about ideas and experimentation. In such context, a new problem appears: it becomes difficult to distinguish between genuinely original creators and those who only seek to benefit from this current no-rules situation by presenting works which are, obviously, shocking, but have no idea lying underneath. Most certainly, Jacquemus falls in the first category.

Ambitious Simon doesn’t hide his roots. First and foremost, he’s just a boy who was born in a modest family in the south of France. He passed his childhood playing in the fields and observing the clothes (his latest collection dedicated to Provence is an obvious reference to these times). Simon’s history is dotted with courageous actions and serious achievements: at the age of 18 he moved to Paris, at the age of 20 established his eponymous brand, in 2013 debuted in Paris Fashion Week and last year he received a special LVMH prize! This unbelievably and cosmically successful trajectory sounds even more paradoxical once you learn more about this designer who seemingly doesn’t care about philosophical and artistic sides of fashion: Jacquemus assures that he has no particular creative philosophy. He prefers to trust the instincts and his decisions are based on spontaneity. If this is the case, Simon’s collections can be appreciated as dynamic outbursts of unconscious creativity rather than carefully manipulated presentations of ideas. This apparently humble, extremely down-to-earth, normal designer didn’t take much time to catch the public eye. Can there be anything more down-to-earth than to create an e-shop design, where clothes are demonstrated against the backdrop of the laundry? However, not everything in Jacquemus’ history is so sweet: he’s often criticized for being an autodidact (Simon gave up prestigious ESMOD school only after some months).

Jacquemus comes up with special titles for every one of his collections, such as “Woman-child”, “Umbrellas of Marseille”, “Child of the sunshine”, “Reconstruction”… If we were to choose the most important characteristic of his work, it would probably be naivety. Jacquemus models wear deconstructed and sculptural clothes, which appear to be either too big or to small. Sometimes it seems that women of his collections are like big paper dolls, trying out clothes in irregularly cut out forms. Playing with contrasts is an important part of Jacquemus’ work. But why did I choose naivety? This French designer talks about being naive enough to believe that nobody will notice that today you dressed up in a slightly inappropriate manner (reference: maxi dress with white contours imitating the formal suit from Spring/Summer 2016), naivety to believe that everything you need to lift the mood are colorful buttons (dark blue coat with yellow buttons from Fall/Winter 2016), naivety to think that even adults can pull out shirts with seemingly infantile illustrations of carrots and flowers. “I would like there to be less industry and more poetry”, Jacquemus once wrote in his Instagram account. Well said, Simon, well said.

For Lithuanian readers, read about Jacquemus in the November issue of Lamu Slenis online

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