Simon Porte Jacquemus on Sand, Sun, and Storytelling
J’aime la vie: “I love life.” Designer Simon Porte Jacquemus sent t-shirts printed with this positive message down the Jacquemus runway last Spring, and you couldn’t ask for a better description of his label’s outlook. Started in 2009 when the Provence-born Jacquemus was a 19-year-old ESMOD dropout with a day job at the Comme des Garçons boutique, Jacquemus has become a collection to watch on the strength of its playful experimentations: inventively cropped separates and dresses whose geometric, slightly futurist forms convey an irresistible sense of youthful enthusiasm.
But don’t mistake optimism for a lack of depth. Beyond Jacquemus' pop colors and sunny attitude is a truly experimental designer with a passion for telling a story.
In your Spring collection, you tell the story of a girl at the beach. What’s the natural habitat of the Jacquemus girl?
Simon Porte Jacquemus: I'm obsessed with the sea, the beach, and an aesthetic very close to the ocean. There’s always the sea in my collections, there’s always sun. And it’s very evident in this collection inspired by Marseille: the parasols, the towels, the accumulation of stripes. The beach, always!
I see your clothes as quintessentially positive and optimistic.
There’s always an ultra-optimistic message: smiling, very positive, "everything is possible." And humanity, too. For my latest collection, beyond the positivity and pop is something very human.
In your Fall and pre-Fall collections, you can see a slightly darker and more serious side. Was this an intentional evolution?
There was a desire to break with the pop and naïve side. I wanted to talk about it in another way. I wanted to put this naivety in another context. That’s why there is much less color, more nature, more of the forest, it’s much more intense. I wanted to go in a different direction.
We always think experimentation and the avant-garde have to be serious, but you show that they can be very fun and spontaneous.
Spontaneous and poetic at the same time.
You’ve named Comme des Garçons as an inspiration. Where can we find the spirit of Rei Kawakubo in your designs?
What I learned there is freedom. The freedom to be who I am, to do what I want. It really strengthened my desire to listen to myself and write my own rules. It’s much more spiritual than you see in the designs.
Who are your other inspirations?
The ones I admire are Rei and Pierre Cardin. People often talk to me about Courrèges: they say Jacquemus is Courrèges. But I try to give something much more modern. Much more sneakers, men’s pants, a more current thing than his 1960s silhouettes, which can quickly become vintage. And I hate vintage! I like the spirit of the 80s and 60s, but I'm obsessed with making a collection that is today and not yesterday.
“Spontaneous and poetic at the same time.“
Whether it’s through the films you make for each collection or with your runway presentations, each season tells a very distinct story.
It’s real storytelling. I don’t make collections to make clothes, I make collections to tell a story, and this obsesses me. I always wanted to have something very narrative. It’s really the start of the collection.
What also tells a story is your Instagram.
I look at it and I feel like I'm in your life, and that it's really fun.
Thank you! It's true that I post a lot of pictures on my Instagram. I take about 500 photos a day. So I don’t stop! I never stop taking pictures: pictures of meals, suns and things. And I really like to share them, because the Jacquemus universe goes beyond clothes. I think today it could be architecture, it could be furniture, it could be a meal, and that's what excites me. It’s really a way of interacting with people. It's amazing!
I hear you love dancing. What are you listening to these days?
Old Giorgio Moroder. Lots of Giorgio Moroder.
They’re going to reveal the winners of the LVMH Young Fashion Designer prize soon – which you’ve been nominated for for a second time. Are you excited to hear the results?
No, actually, I'm focusing on my collections. It's really a plus if I win this award. It'll help me in my development. But I’m not expecting anything, I’m not counting the days until May 22nd! It will be a plus, and that’s all. I’m seeing it with a lot of perspective today.
What will you do if you win?
Good question! Work even more.