Paris Fashion Week took a cautious start to the season with morning shows by newer designers and labels that drew small, manageable crowds. If we thought there was some tension to the atmosphere last season, it is even more palpable now. There are some here who fear the larger shows and the international crowds they bring to the city. The organization responsible for scheduling Paris Fashion Week, Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, or Mode à Paris for short, showed some concern for security in the schedule. Nothing starts before 9:30 AM. There is extra non-scheduled space allotted after the most popular shows. While they’ve done their best to accommodate traditionally held time slots, they’ve moved some large shows to keep too many from occurring after dark .
So, it’s still early evening when Simon Porte Jacquemus starts his spring/summer 2017 presentation. The seats are filled with a growing group of supporters. A flattering article about the designer in this morning’s Business of Fashion certainly didn’t hurt the public relations and seeing that outlet’s editor-in-chief, Imran Amed, sitting front row had to be a boost to the ego. Many of the fashion elite have yet to take Porte serious. He didn’t go to the right school. He hasn’t hired seamstresses. He’s doing everything wrong, which means he’s bucking tradition and surprising everyone with his success. His women’s ready-to-wear has doubled sales year-over-year the past two seasons. There are not many other Paris houses who can make that claim.
At times, Jacquemus has seemed to be poking fun at the fashion establishment, but this is unquestionably his most serious and most mature season yet. He starts with a simple hat, one traditionally worn by field workers in his home region of Provence. The low-profile, wide-brimmed hat is enough to play to this season’s trend for floppy hats, but still manages to hold on to the simplicity of its origins. From there, he grows with layered, minimalist ensembles with some masculine tailoring, broad shoulders, and poofy sleeves. Skirts are often very high. Necklines are frequently very low. The color palette stays muted with dark blues and browns. Only occasionally do we catch a splash of red.
Watch carefully, though, for in this collection Jacquemus shows that he knows what he’s doing with draping fabric. The popularity of broad shoulders this season gives him plenty of room to swoop and swirl, layer and fold. His silhouettes are very full, another trend that is popular this season, and that gives a sense of air and motion to many of his pieces.
I won’t be surprised if, ten years from now, we’re not talking about Jacquemus as one of the great fashion houses of Paris. Eventually, he’ll win over his audience. His detractors will have to take a back seat. This could be a legend in the making, and we all have a front row seat.