fashion

Jacquemus captures the essence of men from Marseille in his debut menswear line

Published 29th June 2018
Jacquemus captures the essence of men from Marseille in his debut menswear line
Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNNMarseille, France
Contributors Emir Eralp & Ana Rosado, CNN
The Calanque de Sormiou beach, a beautiful cove at the bottom of a winding descent through a nature reserve near Marseille, is where French fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus chose to debut his first menswear collection to the world.
Staged on the sand inches away from gently lapping water during magic hour on a June evening, guests were assigned beach towels to sit on or directed toward large rocks to clamber up onto for a view of the show. The front row was jagged, unkempt and hardly policed in the way that a traditional front row in Paris or London might be. The Mediterranean Sea stretched out beyond the runway, providing a perfectly blue backdrop.
A model in Jacquemus menswear.
A model in Jacquemus menswear. Credit: BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Why Jacquemus chose to present his collection in such a stunning location wasn't difficult to interpret. When asked, he confirmed he was looking for paradise but also somewhere that was accessible. "This is not a luxury resort or anything like this, it's just a paradise for everyone," he said.
The atmosphere was remarkably relaxed and utterly different to the feel of a traditional Paris Fashion Week catwalk presentation. Shoes were removed, people smoked cigarettes and ate ice cream as they waited for the show to begin. Children swam nearby, refreshingly unaware of getting in photographers' shots.

'The little brother of the Jacquemus woman'

To some, it might have seemed risky to show your first menswear collection so far from the center of activity in the capital, but Jacquemus seemed firm. "There's no sensuality in Paris, to me, so that's why I've brought people here."
A model in Jacquemus menswear.
A model in Jacquemus menswear. Credit: BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
After presenting La Bomba (he names all of his collections) during the Paris shows in September, his celebration of confident and sophisticated female sensuality was secured, and the imagery of barely there dresses and figure-celebrating silhouettes was still vivid in our minds.
So the expectation was that he would present an equally sexy male character during his debut. But there was a difference. According to Jacquemus, the man he presented was "more like the little brother of the Jacquemus woman. ... He's just starting; he's still very young."
A look from Jacquemus' "La Bomba" womenswear collection.
A look from Jacquemus' "La Bomba" womenswear collection. Credit: Jacquemus
The collection, named Le Gadjo, captures the spirit and diversity of men from the South of France. Jacquemus, born in Provence, returns to the area often, and his Instagram feed is largely a tribute to long days on the beach, his family and the unique color palette of the region.
Sandy hues, striking blues, olives and orange shades sampled from coastal sunsets made their way down the runway. Casual tailoring mixed with swimwear and tracksuits; the knitwear was laid-back, the sort of thing you would throw on after showering the sand off on a cooler summer evening.
A model in Jacquemus menswear.
A model in Jacquemus menswear. Credit: BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The cast of models was diverse and gorgeously youthful. Staying on afterward to hang out, a group of models gathered on the rocks playing music on their iPhones as the sun set. From a distance they looked like local teenagers.
Jacquemus doesn't work with casting directors, preferring to find his models in more organic ways, on Instagram or through friends. "I don't like casting directors," he said. "I like someone or not, you know, and of course the idea was to have a lot of Mediterranean guys, but there were no rules."

Women for his mother, men for his lover

The designer has often said that the Jacquemus woman was for his mother, who passed away when he was just 18. When asked why he chose to pursue a menswear collection now, his answer was simple. "I fell in love one year ago, and it gave me the energy to tell a story about a man."
After the show, guests made their way along a path that led to a small harbor area where drinks were served and a trio of guitarists provided the entertainment. Locals from the nearby houses mixed with fashion editors and friends of Jacquemus. Love was in the air.