Let it not be said that Simon Porte Jacquemus is a one-trick pony. Not to critics, mind, if the tone of the article earlier this week in Business of Fashion (Bigger than you think, Daniel Björk) is to be believed and in which the company very maturely responded to criticism of immaturity and amateurness by showing how well it was doing in reality.
But his true response was the runway on Monday evening, as the sunset over the Espace Ephémère Tuileries where he showcased his strongest collection yet, one that brought to light in an undisputable way how far the self-taught, self-managed and perhaps now even self-confident designer has come in the seven years since he started.
As often, Porte Jacquemus has looked back to his childhood for inspiration, this time coming up with a figure well-known to French people come Christmas time, the santon. These diminutive clay figures come to populate the nativity scene and are something of a cult tchotchke that can be collected and passed down through the generations. So will this collection.
Mixed with his proclivity for geometric shapes, Porte Jacquemus offered a silhouette that mined the folklore of Provence (hello Jean de Florette soundtrack) but reminded strongly of the heydey of the Eighties, with its power shoulders and slim hips. There was a lot of shirting, all mutton-leg sleeves and sans trousers (obviously a good chunk of change comes from that), but full silhouettes were impeccable in cut and shape, chic variations that sat high on the waist and wishlists. The meridional overtones took a turn for the Spanish with a smattering of ruffles but that was just a passing note.
Even the giant straw hats, meticulously round and perfectly proportionned, added a beautiful touch. The bags and shoes were also toothsome and will no doubt fly off the shelves in retail. In a nutshell, it was his most French collection, as well as the strongest, cementing his visual signature.
Given that he chose a path of most resistance, walking himself uphill through the motions of creation, management and retail, in public, the analogy that comes to mind is that of a child actor of the social media scene: every growing pain on display, not by carelessness but by artlessness.