Three months after Paris fashion week ended, Jacquemus welcomed us into a summery, Provençal chic paradise for their Spring/Summer 2023 collection – Le Raphia. As the name suggests, this collection was all about the straw-like woven fabric. From raffia rain that cascaded down onto guests and models alike, to oversized sun hats and exaggerated raffia detailing, Simon Porte Jacquemus proved – once again – that his place as a culturally iconic designer is justified.
Transporting audiences to new dimensions through set design and location is a key element of Jacquemus’ brand. Like many designers, he uses his collections to speak to the world. Twice a year, we get the opportunity to peek into his life, how he views the world and what he has to say.
Whether it’s happy childhood memories in the south of France, the excitement of his impending nuptials or his love for his team; he tells us a story. We get transported inside as a character, experiencing the world the collection creates. While this unique style of vulnerability and authentic communication is a key ingredient to Jacquemus’ success; he’s taking the spotlight away from himself, stating: “We wanted to reference our own history the way a maison would”.
Large fashion houses famously use self-referential pieces to act as a silent logo-free stamp of brand identity, to show respect for their roots across different seasons and creative directors. Jacquemus followed this tradition with Le Raphia. Presenting us with new colour-ways of their Instagram-favourite chiquito bags and referencing their now signature wide brim sun hats, first seen in their SS17 collection, and the more relaxed viral version in SS18. Le Raphia also gave us 3D embellishments, as seen in the SS20 and SS21 collections. With luck this will be a recurring motif as their interpretation of this often clumsily executed technique is both delicate and impossible to ignore.
Via Instagram the brand shared a taster of their invariably impressive and wide-ranging 300 person guestlist. From grime legend and visual artist Skepta, cultural icon Pamela Anderson, Netflix stand out star and singer Manu Rios, French pop singer Aya Nakamura and drill artist K Trap; the excitement was palpable as they said “Bonjour” to the camera. Dressing celebrity guests in pieces from the collection on the runway is nothing new, but like everything this had a classic Jacquemus element; a focus on social media. By now, Simon Jacquemus is well aware of the power of Instagram and more importantly how to use it to his advantage. When talking about his guests he observed that “often they go more viral than the show”, a perfect marketing strategy. However, he also understands the importance of his clothes being seen on real people and he even finds it fun. “It’s different, dressing real people who are not models. I love it. People find them relatable.”
It is very apparent that Jacquemus is growing in design proficiency, as they delivered some haute couture-esque pieces with conversation-starting silhouettes and techniques. The connection between their menswear and womenswear offerings was also more harmonious than ever, exhibiting growth in design capabilities and their ability to cohesively collate their designs.
While these improvements are expected of brands as they grow in both revenue and size, Jacquemus are still marching to the beat of their own drum. Antithetical to the traditional six month lead time from fashion month shows to audience’s wardrobes, most of this collection is already on the website. Simply put, Jacquemus believes that “people shouldn’t have to wait” and if numbers are anything to go by, his instincts are right.
Last year Jacquemus closed €100 million in revenue, expecting to close €200 million by year-end and €500 million by the end of 2025. These numbers are not newsworthy for a popular fashion house except that Jacquemus is still an independent, founder owned brand. This shows that when social-media fuelled cultural capital is paired with joy-inducing pieces and experiential fashion shows, the fortified rules of fashion don’t matter. It’ll be compelling to see what aspects of traditional fashion houses (such as fragrances, cosmetics and haute couture offerings) they choose to espouse and what aspects they choose to reject. Regardless of their next steps, they have our attention and like the rest of the world, I’ll be watching excitedly with bated breath for their next collection.