A wise woman once said, “I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU, WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU, HOW DARE YOU. LEARN SOMETHING FROM THIS.” This wise woman is none other than the presenter of America’s Got Talent, Tyra Banks. After watching Simon Porte Jacquemus’ first menswear show, I couldn’t help but think, #same.
After a 5-month tease (he wore a sweatshirt that said “NEW JOB L’HOMME JACQUEMUS” on his FW18 runway), Jacquemus finally presented his debut men’s’ collection to the very eager fashion media. He described the Jacquemus man as a “little brother” of the Jacquemus woman – which, going off the established record – seemed to promise a sensual, laid back but conceptual man who put thought into his wardrobe.
The collection, titled “Le Gadjo” and presented on a Marseille beach, certainly reached for that ideal. Overtly muscled boys walked barefoot in an assortment of translucent cotton vests, heavy knits worn over unflattering speedos, and plenty of cargo pants – some cut awkwardly below the knee. Many wore a wallet, with the Jacquemus logo, on their necks like a lanyard. Even his now-iconic oversized straw hat made an appearance in a more conservatively proportioned, unfinished looking form - carried and not worn, strangely.
It was awkward. The presentation came across like it was trying to sell the Jacquemus lifestyle instead of actual clothes to be worn. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing. However, a problem comes along when the pieces presented were so undesirable that the show managed to sell neither of the two, and instead became more of an expensive ego trip for the designer himself. The only sensuality came from the models themselves, and its fabrics and styles contradicted itself for a summer collection shown on the beach and named for young men from the South of France.
Even though Jacquemus explained that he “didn’t think there is [sic] this Mediterranean boy in the market” and how this collection sought to fill that gap, I struggled to understand the coherence in the 34-look show. Do Mediterranean boys wear yellow ties with flower prints to the beach? Or a generic grey blazer with rolled sleeves? Do I need to leave the house more? In similarly sunny climes, some of the pieces made attractive sense. The satin shirts with logo embroidery are easy to wear and buy into. So are the knitted v-necks with cut off sleeves. Almost everything else shown was simply not compelling or interesting enough to convince all but the most ardent Jacquemus follower that these were believable fashions for the sibling to Jacquemus’ terr.
Pieces and aesthetic elements from his womenswear that could’ve easily translated for men were overlooked in favor of exploring a new but unconvincing aesthetic. So who exactly would buy this collection? I have a feeling it’s women looking for an easier way to wear Jacquemus than the at-times intimidatingly chic aesthetic of his women’s line.