i-D:
Jacquemus

Photography by Matteo Montanari, Styling by Caroline Newell

When talk­ing to 24-year-old Simon Porte Jacquemus from his studio in Paris, there is one word that keeps pop­ping up in the con­ver­sa­tion: naïve. I think it’s my taste. I’m obsessed with naivety. I’m self-made in fash­ion, every­thing I’ve done is very spon­ta­neous,’ he says.

Don’t be mis­taken though, this isn’t the naivety of a mis­guided fash­ion stu­dent doubt­ing their abil­ity; it’s the refresh­ing atti­tude of a young designer who chooses to defy the status quo and not take fash­ion too seri­ously in a coun­try noto­ri­ous for its steely-faced approach to sar­to­r­ial codes. Perhaps this naivety is born from his idyl­lic child­hood. My family are a farm­ing family; we grow fruit and veg­eta­bles,” he says, I grew up in the south of France between Marseille and Avignon; it was a very peace­ful child­hood.”

Despite not being directly exposed to fash­ion in his for­ma­tive years, Jacquemus moved to Paris at the age of 18 to go to fash­ion school, but it was only after losing his mother a year later that he decided to start his own label, and the Jacquemus brand was born. Crop tops and coats with exag­ger­ated sil­hou­ettes, over­sized shapes, usu­ally based around cir­cles and squares — another play­ful nod to his youth­ful approach to design — and pur­pose­fully-picked fab­rics such as neo­prene and nylon are sig­na­tures through­out his col­lec­tion, though he never designs with any par­tic­u­lar girl in mind. For him it is more about telling a story: I don’t just do clothes, I write a story and then come the clothes. 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…”

Photography by Matteo Montanari, Styling by Caroline Newell

The notion of having a story around the clothes he designs is very much in-line with the ide­ol­ogy of Rei Kawakubo, some­one Jacquemus learned a lot from when work­ing in the Comme Des Garçons store in Paris as a stu­dent. They sup­ported me at Dover Street Market from the begin­ning. The way she acts, she’s always very calm… I’m not Rei Kawakubo, but I recog­nise some traits in the way she acts. I can under­stand her,” he says.

Simon Porte Jacquemus’ cloth­ing is for a new type of cus­tomer: young, open and not con­fined to past ideals of luxury dress­ing. Jacquemus is keen to dispel ideals of the Parisian girl, com­plete with Breton stripes and per­fectly dishev­elled hair, and put for­ward some­thing dif­fer­ent. For me, there is such a cliché around the Parisian and I don’t like it. I’m obsessed with French, not Parisian.”

Jacquemus’ modern view of his sur­round­ings, as well as his desire to expand his audience’s hori­zons extends to his runway shows. I always try to have some­thing spe­cial, because I don’t want to have a show that’s like a look book, I’m not into it.” Breaking with con­ven­tion, Simon has pre­vi­ously put the fash pack in show set­tings as unique as swim­ming pools and arcades, making his 360-degree-take on sto­ry­telling a must-see event during Paris Fashion Week.

Photography by Matteo Montanari, Styling by Caroline Newell

Music and film play a major part in the way Jacquemus looks at the world, with influ­ences from Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Tati to obscure ref­er­ences from his teens, but this doesn’t seem to alien­ate his global fan base. With 80 stock­ists world­wide, and count­ing, Jacquemus looks set to cement the brand’s place along­side the Simone Rochas and Marques’Almeidas of the world — they’re young design­ers who know what con­sumers their own age want and who create their own con­tem­po­rary luxury brands, a free­dom made pos­si­ble by remain­ing inde­pen­dent: I’m totally free to do what I want every season. I don’t have a col­lec­tion plan, and I started my busi­ness with maybe 2,000 euros when I was 19. I think what’s excit­ing today is to be free.”

The brand’s growth has been organic, buoyed by the power of social media and the osmo­sis of images on Tumblr and Instagram. When I was 19 it was crazy to see how much images were shared on Tumblr. We don’t wait for press, they can say if they like some­thing just by shar­ing a post, that’s excit­ing.”

Carving a niche for him­self in sea of hungry design talent, Simon Porte Jacquemus designs for the chic yet brazen non-con­formist, buck­ing the trend for much metic­u­lous pre-plan­ning, and going com­pletely on gut instincts. I’m 24 right now and every­thing is very good,” he says, I don’t ques­tion myself, I just try to be as honest and spon­ta­neous as I can.”