At his spring-summer 2023 show outside Paris on Monday, designer Simon Porte Jacquemus drew a star-studded crowd that included Blackpink singer Jennie, actors Vincent Cassel and Pamela Anderson, and reality-TV personality Christine Quinn.
In a twist on the old-movie trick, pieces of raffia snowed from the ceiling to create a surrealist summer in winter. It was an apt backdrop for the line-up of sexy, sunny ensembles — many of which are being readied for purchase in December as part of the brand’s “see-now, buy-now” strategy.
That Jacquemus would lean on cinematic tactics for its latest outing is no surprise — the designer’s memorable runways, including romps through lavender fields and otherworldly salt mines, have made him one of French fashion’s favourite showmen.
The social media-savvy designer has often centred his own backstory and personality in his work: be it his strong ties to the south of France, a sun-drenched romance with his boyfriend (now husband) or his boyish sense of humour. (He teased the show by pranking Instagram Sunday, telling his audience of 5.2 million followers that “The show of tomorrow will be my last one… of the year!” Ha.)
This season, however, the designer made an effort to keep himself outside the frame, mining the codes of Jacquemus, the brand, rather than animating the collection with another story about Jacquemus, the man. The giant straw hats, sunflowers, geometric motifs and twisted asymmetrical tops of previous seasons all made a return. Poking fun at the brand’s own commercial success, its popular €100 sun bob was deconstructed and worked into ruffled tops.
“I didn’t want to tell another story about myself. We wanted to reference our own history, history the way a maison would,” Jacquemus said.
Instagram-addicted clients who populate posh summer destinations from Capri to Mykonos — and whose style vocabulary of big hats and tiny bags has often been inspired by Jacquemus’ summery collections — themselves became a key inspiration for the show, as the brand looked for a ways to put a fresh spin on strappy sandals, straw bags and big earrings. “That girl who is a bit over-the-top, we wanted to sublimate her. We wanted to have fun with our own codes,” Jacquemus said.
The self-referential collection was a savvy exercise for Jacquemus: While the brand’s success has often been fuelled by its charismatic founder, the label is gradually becoming an institution in its own right. This year, it opened its first retail store, on Paris’ iconic Avenue Montaigne (birthplace of luxury ür-institution Christian Dior), as well as bringing on its first external CEO (longtime advisor Bastien Daguzan), as it aims to grow annual sales from around €200 million euros to over €500 million in 2025. (In an interview with BoF in September, Jacquemus revealed its financials for the first time since 2016).
“We wanted to reference our own history, history the way a maison would.”
As much a pragmatist as a dreamer, Jacquemus has adapted his business model to turn the kind of online buzz generated by today’s show into direct sales, sticking with a “see-now, buy-now” strategy that makes runway collections immediately shoppable since five seasons.
Other companies have trialled and abandoned the approach, which eliminates the gap between staging shows and selling collections that many brands use to build momentum through celebrity placements, editorial shoots and advertising. It also requires a brand to hold sales meetings with stockists behind closed doors, and to design the next collection while preparing to stage the one before.
But aligning shows with the selling season has helped boost conversions from social media, Jacquemus said. Of the brand’s €102 million in sales last year, 39 percent came from the brand’s online flagship.
“We are such a big brand in terms of Instagram, it wasn’t possible to show something that isn’t available for sale for six months. The audience was super confused,” Jacquemus said. “As a creative, it’s super hard to make something and not show it, and then 6 months later go back into it. But as an owner, it’s super good because more people are wearing Jacquemus.”