Paris has got the old houses tied up with conglomerates and swanky creative directors infrastructure down to a textbook pat. The weird downside to the set-in-stone establishment is that there's very little young blood in Paris. Quite literally I can only name a handful of names and even then, they tend not to be French by birth. Not that nationality matters but it does strike me as odd when on this side of the channel, graduates get groomed right from the get go to gain recognition in their own right.
Therefore Jacquemus seems like an unstuffy bit of fresh air. There's something slightly young and naive about it all in its stark simplicity. Then again, the designer Simon Porte is only 21 years old. After going to fashion school and assisting in a fashion magazine for a while, he decided to go it alone to start Jacquemus. His age shows in early seasons, which are vaguely American Apparel-ish for girls that do quirky dance moves (just watched Zooey Deschanel in New Girl – toe curlingly cringey).
But it's L'Usine, the A/W 11-12 collection that really turned my head, not least because it's accompanied by an intriguing lookbook and video by Bertrand le Pluard. Depicting sexy French girls (all un-made-up in a way that only the French and the fortunate seem to be able to get away with) at work wearing the juxtaposition of boiled wool pieces that have been daringly cropped at the midriff and at the legs, it conjures up some some strange imagery. It would all be a little too severe and stiffly stark if it weren't for the fact that Porte picked the right girls to represent his clothes. Opening Ceremony has already come onboard for the current A/W 11-12 collection although they don't have the multicoloured stripe piece which I spy on Jacquemus' little e-store. The goal would be to wear both jumper and skirt and look like a piece of German candy.
For the S/S 12 Jacquemus collection, Porte looks to a lonely woman who has lost her faith in love and turns to dogs instead, a fate that one can only relate to Bridge Jones and her prediction that alsatians will eat her dead corpse up. Good on Caroline de Maigret, the ex-model and general Parisian stylehead, for taking on this role in the lookbook, modelling and supporting the strict collection which only consists of five styles of dress in five shades of sombre toned colours inspired by the hospital. I can't imagine the beautiful Maigret getting consumed by loneliness or eaten by alsatians but she does look lovely in these simple frocks. Porte wanted to make dresses that felt deliberately old and fuddy duddy as well as being comfortable. It's a strange simplicity that Porte is creating, one that is tied up with the women that inhabit his clothes and perhaps is overly reliant on that denominator. Still, Jacquemus with its intriguing zane is worth checking out. If only to look like a boiled wool stripy candy sweet.