Paris (AFP) – Paris fashion week began with a zing late Monday with an ode to the kind of effortlessly sexy French woman who can stop hearts and traffic by just wrapping herself in a shawl.
Simon Porte Jacquemus, the farm boy from the south of France who has bewitched fashion editors and pop stars alike with his Provencal pastoral, turned the temperature up with a collection he called “La Bomba”.
It was a homage to women like his late mother Valerie who could turn an old shirt and a sarong into something breathtaking.
“I don’t think I ever saw my mother more beautiful than on evenings after the beach and probably when she was in love. Evenings when we would go for a walk around the port,” he said.
“That’s the woman I wanted to talk about. ‘La bombe’ as we say in the South.”
“The idea was to drape fabrics around that summer woman, something very sexual,” the Jacquemus designer told AFP.
The self-taught 27-year-old who “grew up in the fields in my bare feet free to play with clothes”, has charmed Paris with his sometimes sublime mix of oversized summer hats and simply cut summer dresses.
Here he went for something a lot more sexy with shirts that became the briefest of dresses, and a knotted fringed shawl worn as a skirt.
But to this improvised glamour of hot summer nights he added a string of see-through jetset mini-dresses that turned the heat up another notch.
High-heeled sandals that swished with little trailing balled whips completed the effect.
Yet there was poetry too, with dresses adorned with Matisse-like cut-out bird patterns.
– Making love on a chair –
Jacquemus has said that he started designing because he “wanted to create something for the kind of French girl who can see the modern poetry in a white T-shirt.”
But it was his mother who died tragically young at 42, and whose maiden name he adopted for himself and his label, that has marked him most.
He said he knew what he wanted to do as early as seven when instead of getting angry with him for cutting down one of her kitchen curtains to make into a skirt, his mother proudly wore it to take him to school.
Jacquemus kicked off nine days of Paris spring summer shows, with the veteran designer Pierre Cardin, now 95, and US model-turned-actress Emily Ratajkowski among a starry audience there to cheer on the young man some are billing the “next big thing”.
The designer used the occasion to launch a steamy worldwide advertising campaign for his autumn collection featuring a naked couple making love on a chair in a salt marsh in the Camargue region of southern France.
There is not a stitch of fabric anywhere in the shot other than the parasol the couple are sheltering under, with the man holding what seems to be a feather.
Jacquemus told Women’s Wear Daily that the “timeless image” was trying to tell the story of the collection, of how a Parisian woman falls in love with a gypsy from the Camargue region.
Georgy, a Roma man who was begging in the rain around the corner from the Picasso Museum where the Jacquemus show was staged, had his doubts about the scenario.
Asked by AFP what he thought of the idea, he said he had yet to fall into the arms of a fashionable Parisienne.
However, he said he would be open to the idea.