Not only was Simon Porte Jacquemus eager to return to the runway; he wanted to get back to traveling, too.
And so it was that an audience of 100 guests —among them VIPs including Isabel Adjani and Tina Kunakey—were ferried to a gently rolling wheat field near Us (pronounced: “oose”) in the French Vexin Regional National Park, about an hour outside Paris. Snaking through the sheaves, a dramatic wood plank runway ran 600 meters long, a setup the designer said was meant to evoke authenticity as well as the brand’s more romantic side.
In March, Porte Jacquemus had been in touch with the dancer Alexander Ekman, who came to the designer’s studio on the eve of lockdown in France. Needless to say, everything changed at that point, but the reference remained. During a pre-show interview, Porte Jacquemus said he wanted his collection to talk of love and celebration, “like a simple country wedding or a harvest festival.” With everyone cocooning at home, he wanted to create something “bubble-like” to represent the moment.
Ultimately, he named the collection “L’Amour,” a declaration of love for his team, and sprinkled it with Provençal references such as ceramics, a poem by Miro, a corner of a grandmother’s tablecloth, and a colander of cherries. The show may have taken place in the great outdoors, but the clothes nodded to what we have all been experiencing inside.
Where Porte Jacquemus really connected was on dresses that channel the typical Southern French insouciance: One-and-done numbers included a polo dress, and a slinky black number with contrasting stitching, breezy wheat sheaf beading, and tassels. A few white dresses, one in broderie anglaise, will probably do well by bucolic-minded fans, bridal or otherwise. For men, a leaf print was as beguiling as leather knife-and-fork tassels were improbable; elsewhere, the Picasso motifs and cut-out hearts might hit home with some fans. A sun-washed color palette of sage, ecru, black, and clay looked universally flattering. Witty earrings—coils, a Chiquito handbag, a bar of Marseille soap—added to the fun, as did leather accessories like a harness for a single plate, or the new Chiquito Noeud, a variation on the house bestseller.
Despite complicated logistics, visually this show was a masterstroke. It addressed all of the issues dominating the fashion conversation in 2020 in terms of diversity, inclusivity, and apparent authenticity. Presciently, Porte Jacquemus last year had dialed down to two shows per year. But a live runway, he noted, can never be replaced.
“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.”
Unfortunately, many Jacquemus fans won’t be able to summer in the South of France this year. But they’ll be able to pretend they can: pre-orders via the brand’s website open tomorrow morning.