What is it about parking garages that Parisian designers want to use them as settings for their runway presentations? We visited several of them last season and here we are in yet another one, the third today, already in this young season. I’m not sure if it’s the bare concrete, that minimalist feel of stripping away every embellishment, or the stark architecture, or just the fact that renting a garage for a day is a lot cheaper than one of the more elaborate places around Paris. Given this one was chosen by Simon Jacquemus, I’m going to guess that the minimalist thing has a lot to do with it. At least he didn’t make everyone wear a hospital smock this time.
He most certainly did create a set surrounded by beach umbrellas and deck chairs, though, and have a soundtrack of crashing waves and squawking seagulls echoing off the concrete surroundings. The set was actually a full-scale installation by Alex de Betak, a prominent French producer who specializes in multi-sensory events such as this. If one felt a little overwhelmed at times by all the sound, or all the white, be certain that the effect was totally intentional.
White is definitely the foundation on which the entire collection is built. Not that it is monochromatic in any way, but it is the contrast of color to that very bright, very bleached, very stark white that creates the artistic tension in the collection. The theme is the beach and this is certainly the most sporty collection I’ve seen from Jacquemus. He plays off the white brilliantly, letting it drape and fold and fall off the shoulder for loose fitting tops then wraps striped skirts around as though they were structured leather beach towels. He creates a very light and casual aesthetic, which isn’t easy for the average minimalist.
Part of what makes this collection fun is how Simon manages to take such very large swaths of cloth and make them interesting. He uses the bib silhouette quite effectively on several different looks. Other times, large striped pieces rather resemble sails, and sometimes even require some creative belting lest the wearer be caught up and carried away by a strong wind. Speaking of wind, one rather short skirt appears to be billowing in the breeze, which is a very interesting effect when one is indoors. There are a few instances of the most simple applique; a carrot, a flower, a circle that I assume is supposed to represent a beach ball.
What makes this collection work is Jacquemus’ ability to structure his garments so they have a sense of motion. Hems must be asymmetrical because they’re supposed to be moving. If a blouse is more open on the right, the skirt plays to the left. He has quite creatively solved the issue of minimalist design looking too blocky or stiff while maintaining the structural elements. Add in the bright candy-colored stripes and the only this missing from this day at the beach is the ice cream.
Photo Credit: Guillame Roujas