Last night, in Man Repeller’s New York office, a few of us huddled around my computer and clicked through the Jacquemus Spring ’17 collection, which Simon Porte Jacquemus showed in Paris yesterday. Apart from the occasional hushed whoa and so good, we were silent. The clothes didn’t ask for live commentary, only our rapt attention. At the end, we all agreed the collection left us with something resembling what Leandra once described as “the excited fashion feeling in the pit of her belly.”
Moments before our little huddle puddle, we’d been discussing the somewhat underwhelming (albeit cool and pretty, respectively) reveal of Anthony Vaccarello and Bouchra Jarrar’s premiere collections for Saint Laurent and Lanvin. And then, after Jacquemus, “What is it, do you think, that makes us immediately like a collection versus not?” Leandra asked. It’s an interesting question because the very premise — that the good fashion feelings sometimes precede actual thought — meant the answer wouldn’t be immediately obvious.
It’s also a really good one to ask in the context of Jacquemus because, actually, I think the gut-likeability of his clothes is exactly what makes him so fun to watch. They are off-kilter and kooky, but also simple and digestible and approachable. They don’t overwhelm you visually or psychologically — only emotionally. They’re beautiful and welcoming art: a hard balance to strike in fashion.
Jacquemus was one of the first designers I remember loving in a deep sort of visceral way without having been handed any context. I discovered him when I was living in San Francisco, working in technology, desperately trying to school myself in capital-F Fashion (an excel spreadsheet was involved). His uncomplicated boundary-pushing was so inviting and inclusive, I remember feeling eager to call him a favorite.
It makes sense, then, that Business of Fashion would write a profile on him just ahead of his showing yesterday that painted him as a designer for his own generation, “a child of the digital age.” At only 26 (*screams*), he’s pretty new on the scene. You might recall Leandra asking if he was the next Margiela in March 2015. And then in March of this year: “[W]hile Jacquemus does this pretty great thing wherein even the most out-there ideas and their physical manifestations might appear tough to digest, when served for consumption, they’re seemingly handed off with an absorption-aiding enzyme.”
It turns out this marriage of artistic and marketable is very much intentional and extends beyond his runway. He told Business of Fashion he always intended to be a commercially successful brand — a perhaps bold admission for someone so interested in the conceptual underbelly of fashion — but also conceded that growing Jacquemus to be “enormous” wouldn’t add anything to his life. How interesting. “My strategy, to be clear, is to have a strong brand with a strong image, and a contemporary price point,” Porte Jacquemus said. “But I don’t want to be next to the contemporary brands.”
What a compelling and distinctly youthful approach. His clothes feel the same way.
Feature photograph by Victor Virgile; carousel Image by Victor Boyko via Getty Images; slideshow photographs via Vogue Runway.