Summertime. The perfect season to evokes the sun, the sea, the light… everything that reminds the playfulness and the simple « joie de vivre », the child-like spirit and sense of freedom of a French fashion designer who is becoming legendary. In only 10 years, he transforms its brand status from a « handmade Jeune créateur » to a famous and desirable worldwide one! And I’m sure that it’s only the beginning of a long long story … (all pictures from Instagram account @jacquemus)
10 reasons why Simon Porte Jacquemus is here to last.
1/ He has a strong determination
Born into a relatively modest family of farmers, he grew up playing in the apple fields of Mallemort a small town in southern France. As a child, he was already dreaming of Paris and of a fulfilled life meeting famous artists and designers… In an interview for French Vogue Magazine, he remembered a day when his father trying to convince him to help in the familial vineyards told him that Karl Lagerfeld was nearby and that he might have a chance to see him if he worked there… Simon woke up at 5 am and spent the whole day waiting for him until his father recognized he lied… « From the neighbor to the mailman, the whole village knew I wanted to be a Fashion designer in Paris« …
2/ He made it all by himself
In 2008, at the age of 18, he convinced his parents and grand-parents to finance a scholarship in the famous « École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode (ESMOD) ». He was so disappointed by Paris « a grey city where nobody was jumping and dancing in the streets, happy to be in Paris« , as he first imagined when he was in South. Besides the lack of passion and enthusiasm of the students there push him to leave the school only after a few months for an assistant stylist position at Citizen K fashion magazine. But the sudden death of its beloved mother in a car accident changed everything. It made him totally reconsider its priorities. Life is too short: he had to start his fashion designer career! He is only 19 years old when he started Jacquemus, named in memory of his mother maiden name.
3/ He is driven by strong values
His family, his friends, his south roots… even now that he becomes famous he never denied what he was and from where he came from. His grandmother travels from the South to support him at all his Fashion shows. One of his best schoolmates is now his commercial manager. The friends who helped him when he was struggling to get some attention of Emmanuelle Alt or other fashion chief redactors are still invited to sit on the front row… One of them, Jeanne Damas today worldwide famous Instagirls certainly remembers very well the days when she was marching dressed in a labor woman uniform with a bunch of other pretty girls under a banner that said « Jacquemus on strike » to create a happening in front of the Dior Show in 2011.
4/ He designs unprecedented but wearable clothes
The giant straw hat, the mini mini bags, the sculptural sandals or its highly recognizable asymmetrical designs… all these creations are genuine but wearable. « That’s really important to me, to create clothes that are wearable and that sell », he explained. He treads a neat line between the conceptual and the commercial via twisted and deconstructed shirt dresses, asymmetric blazers and statement blouses.
5/ He loves telling stories
Since the very beginning, each of his collection has a name, all starting either L’, La ou Le. La Grande Motte (a modernist seaside resort), Le Souk, La Bomba, Le Gadjo (the man in southern argot), Le Meunier (the miller)… His inspiration is coming from French movies with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gerard Depardieu or Isabelle Adjani, French singers as Serge Gainsbourg or Barbara… « All my references are French! », he says. « I always start with the story, as if I was making a movie. I even write the story down with proper treatment. And then I create the clothes« .
The book of one of its first Collection « La Grande Motte »
6/ He masters Instagram and social media
Born with them, he naturally used them since its very beginning. « I had a blog when I was 13, 14, 15, he tells in SSense interview. It was very famous in France. I was telling a story per week: all stories were about me. Simon in the fields. Simon by the sea. Simon on the farm with my family… I do that spontaneously and I’m not ashamed to use it. For me, it’s about sharing. I like sharing my vision. So I took pictures of my first pieces, created a story around them and shared it on Facebook. The next day someone messaged me from Les Inrockuptibles, a famous French music magazine, and said we saw your collection we would like to interview you. I was like, “ah oui!” It was so beautiful ». So Facebook helped him to publicize its very first collections and now Instagram where he shares his personal and professional life with 1,2 millions of followers. And he perfectly knows how to create the buzz and to get attention: a catwalk on a wild « Calanques » (coves) near Marseilles for its first Man Collection, inside a breakfast buffet, another among the lavender fields to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand…
7/ He knows how to stay simple, enthusiast and as he says « naïve »
« When I was 18, he tells in a Vogue interview, I found frightening all those young designers who said they found inspiration in some intellectual concepts linked to architecture or a ghost linked to the idea of stones scattered on a sheet… I want my grandmother to understand what I do. And that her best friend, the mailwoman of my village, can wear my collections. What she’s really been doing lately, by the way… » « My goals never change, he explained to SSense. Having millions and many shops, that’s nothing in life ».
8/ He knows how to sale
He reminds in a recent interview in SSense that when he was young « my weekly highlight was to sell fruits and vegetables on the road-side on weekends. I had learned the license plates of cars by heart so I knew which cars were driven by tourists from Paris« …
Selling lavender in Provence
Later, in Paris, after gaining the support of Rei Kawakubo and her husband Adrian Joffe, he began working as a salesman at the Comme des Garçons store in 2011 to finance his emerging business. A rare experience for a fashion designer that helped him to get to know and understand the customer’s expectations.
9/ He is charismatic and friendly
“When he appeared, he was not just thinking outside of the box—there was absolutely no box, Loïc Prigent, French fashion specialist says. He had no fashion education, no fashion skills learned in a school, no fashion-system knowledge. His energy is so overwhelming, so real and genuine—and his clothes are sexy in a way no avant-garde label is; it’s never trashy, never too much.”
10/ He is working hard but he doesn’t take things too seriously
« Stay happy and listen to yourself. I’m not afraid of anything », he says in SSense article. « I can stop Jacquemus tomorrow and become a farmer. To cultivate the earth is very noble. I am happy, as long as I can wear a uniform. The important thing is to stay happy« !
Quotes from Vogue Paris, Vogue Australia, Vogue US, SSense
If you have not already done it, my advice would definively be to invest in one of his pieces. Wear it carefully and keep it for years. Just as if you had the opportunity to buy a Chanel bag or a Dior dress in the ’50s, I’m sure it would become a fashion treasure!
Here a selection of his best pieces
Also, put an alert or check for good deals on Vestiaire Collective