Live fashion finally returned to France on Thursday when Simon Porte Jacquemus staged a rather wondrous show where a beautiful cast marched through a giant field of bearded wheat in the Val d’Oise, northwest of Paris.
Guests were ferried 90 minutes out of the French capital to a fertile plateau and a thousand-acre field in a historical county known as Vexin. Named after the ancient Gallic tribe who fought Julius Cesar, the Veliocasses, whose name means honest.
Which is what this Jacquemus show was; an idyllic moment where exotic beauties swept through a field that stretched as far as the eye could see, the wind rippling the spikes of wheat behind them. Van Gogh in Vexin, where guests sat on old wooden chairs sunk into the wheat field.
The cast first appeared over the crest of the hill, some 300 meters away, then marched before a darkly glorious sunset, along a twisting plywood runway. Similar to the curvaceous clothes, which exposed plenty of skin, in a stellar casting of today’s hippest models. Jacquemus style is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Cut with an elongated silhouette with billowing high-waist pants and micro cotton capes, racy bras, or mini boleros with giant puff sleeves. Shapes that recalled a curvy Joan Miró drawing, or an early Karl Blossfeldt plant photo.
"I really wanted to work on the draping, and a new sense of proportion," added the designer, who spent lockdown in his native Provence.
Jacquemus injected all sorts of fine art references into the mix, in a great series of men’s shirts in this coed show: spiky golden Alexander Calder patterns, Jean Lurçat sketches of the sun, even Howard Meister’s famous P-Strut wire chair was worked into a crisp white cotton gent’s shirt. Pencil skirts finished as if by faux spikelets of hulled wheat, which were also used in some cute miniature clutches.
The show was backed up by a soundtrack that included Goran Bregović, and a stupendously impassioned flamenco number by Luz Casal, on speakers hidden deep within the field. All staged before barely 80 guests, including Isabelle Adjani, almost hiding in one of the designer’s huge straw hats. And applauded heartily at the finale, when Jacquemus took a long wave at the very top of the hill.
"I wanted to be in nature, but not in Provence or down south as I normally do. Near to Paris, given the circumstances," explained Jacquemus, who has staged previous shows in a lavender field or on a beach outside Marseille.
Catwalk action will return to Paris in late September when major houses will mount fully fledged shows, albeit with reduced numbers due to social distancing. But not Jacquemus, as this was his Spring collection.
"My calendar is twice a year, with coed collections. We practiced a slow down in the company, and that is much less exhausting for my team. It’s vital in my view. It breaks the heavy inexorable rhythm of fashion," he insisted, before wading into a post-show cocktail, the twilight bathing his guests in the kindest of lights.
If you build it, they will come.