Simon Porte Jacquemus had a terrible summer. While he hinted at personal strife backstage, he wouldn’t say exactly what happened, letting his strange, melancholic show tell a tale of burden, frustration and unfinished business.
He enlisted his seven-year-old cousin, Jean, to roll out a giant ball wrapped in red fabric, and later, drag a giant red necktie across the circular show set, occasionally stumbling under its weight. (Given that the ushers at Paris shows are known as “cravates rouges,” or red ties, was this a wry comment on the fashion system?) And then a white horse trotted out, symbolizing hope, the designer said, likening his oblique set play to a piece of Italian theater.
The collection was as naïve as ever: Navy jackets, white shirts and red minidresses and skirts dissected into halves, occasionally quarters, and bound to the body with white laces, red sashes or circles of white fabric — circles being a fetish Jacquemus motif.
As a spectacle, it effectively portrayed the anguish and ache of a young designer whose spring victory — scoring a 150,000-euro ($169,000 at current exchange) special jury award in the second annual LVMH Prize — did not carry over into an idyllic August. Meanwhile, the clothes, while raw and skimpy, were often cute, and sexier than usual. So maybe there is hope.