LA MARSEILLAISE: He’s known for staging shows in venues that riff on retro references inspired by his upbringing in Provence, such as a gaming arcade or a swimming pool. Next up, maverick designer Simon Porte Jacquemus will literally be going back to his roots for the presentation of a fashion show and tandem exhibitions in a southern French city where he spent much of his youth: Marseille.
As the special guest of the city’s upcoming OpenMyMed festival, the designer will be taking his love of performance to new heights.
For his show, due to be held May 13, Jacquemus plans to have 32 models in looks from his spring 2017 collection walk across a soaring flat footbridge linking the open-air Place d’Armes in the Fort Saint Jean, a 17th century military complex with panoramic views over the port of Marseille, to the Rudy Ricciotti-designed main building of the Museum for Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM). Devoid of arch or cables, the bridge is made of black concrete suspended 60 feet in the air. The show will be open to members of the public, with reservations to be made through the designer’s web site from April 20. The event is produced by the Maison Méditerranéenne des Métiers de la Mode (MMMM), which supports young fashion designers from France and the Mediterranean basin.
“If I’d had the choice, Les Santons de Provence is not a collection I would have shown in Paris. I would have liked to have presented it in the South of France, so I wanted to offer it to Marseilles, and it’s the city’s first ever fashion show, which I feel very proud about,” said the designer at a press conference announcing the event on Wednesday, held at the Duperré School of Applied Arts. Guests were served Pastis on the site’s rooftop, to get them in the Marseille mood.
“I grew up 40 minutes away from Marseilles, but I was obsessed with the place. I would take three buses to get there to go swimming. If you look at the sea there, you think you’re in Greece. It’s really special to me,” he said.
Under the banner “Marseille je t’aime,” the designer will also stage exhibitions at two of the city’s museums.
In shows entitled “Maison” and “Archives”, set to run May 12 to Jan. 14, 2018, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Marseille, Jacquemus will present cement house sculptures based on his signature round and square forms, as well as a photo exhibition and film made with “Bodies in Open Spaces” performance artist Willi Dorner and photographer David Luraschi.
The film, which was inspired by the retro theme tune of Nineties French classic, “La Gloire de Mon Père,” which has chirping cicadas as percussion, features people dressed in archive Jacquemus creations arranged in a mound formation and shot against the ‘calanques,’ the name for the rocky inlets around Marseille and nearby Cassis.
For “Images,” set to run May 13 to July 31, Jacquemus has taken over a 12th century chapel of the Order of Malta in the fort complex. Under 32-foot-high ceilings, a constellation of screens will project a patchwork of images and videos taken from his phone, offering an intimate perspective on the designer’s universe and inspirations through his own eyes.
“It will be like an Instagram story only more interesting, I hope. I’ve always been obsessed with making images, I have a collection of around 30,000 and I take around 500 or 600 per day,” said Jacquemus.
The designer is also working on a 300-page image-based tome paying homage to the city, entitled “Marseille je t’aime,” to be released at the event, comprised of 16 series by artists and photographers including Luraschi, who lensed his last two campaigns, Pierre-Ange Carlotti and Ruth van Beek, under the artistic direction of Jacquemus.
The rising designer scooped the special prize in the 2015 edition of the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers and counts Rei Kawakubo — one of his designer heroes — and Miley Cyrus among his admirers.