The Welcome Light Of The Beach

As we watch closely who in Paris Men’s Fashion Week is cooler or edgier, have we forgotten that sometimes, clothes should just simply be articles of joy?


With all the attention this past week centred on big luxury houses and the design directors that steer them, men’s wear seems to be a divisive debate about where it’s really heading: onward march with street style or return to elegant tailoring. Between these opposites, Simon Porte Jacquemus launched his first men’s collection in the south of France, seemingly unconcerned with who’s traipsing on which path, back in the capital.

Presented on the beach of his boyhood home near Marseilles, Mr Jacquemus showed a collection so unconcerned with the directional dilemma of his competitors that this could easily be one of the most refreshing collections of the over-hyped season. These were happy clothes, worn by happy people, in a place radiating with happiness even if only because nature had blessed the show with inviting sea, sun, and sky.

For Jacquemus, happiness is a recurrent theme—the brand’s autumn/winter 2018 show was brimming with vibes that is best described as upbeat and uplifting. This positive charge was palpable in the newly conceived men’s line too. It’s in the cheerful colours, the uncomplicated prints, and the relaxed shapes. For this spring/summer season, the Jacquemus collection was, by far, the most sun-dappled.

Jacquemus SS 2019 G1

Jacquemus SS 2019 G2.jpg

While some may consider these clothes unchallenging, it should be noted that, contrary to what influencers would have us believe, the choices in fashion that many of us make usually have nothing to do with peacocking in a make-a-spectacle grounds of fashion week. Jacquemus has shown that stylish clothes can be those readily welcome in the clique that already exists in your wardrobe. These clothes look perfectly consistent with a season that usually means effortless ease. For those of us living in equatorial climes, the collection made a lot of sense.

Those shorts (never too short), those shirts (never too tight), those pullover (never too heaving)—they spoke of smile-inducing wearability, yet they are not pedestrian to the point that you would consider waiting for Zara to release their version. That the collection also communicated a sense of holiday, of a time when the hours ticked slowly, of those moments you can curl up in a quite corner for a snooze, suggested that designer clothes can be about living comfortably and well in them, and not about striking a pose or training surrounding eyes on the wearer. This should have been what Tomas Maier’s collaboration with Uniqlo looked like, not the bland clobber still languishing in the store more than a month after it was launched.

Jacquemus SS 2019 G3

Mr Jacquemus attributed the look to the “Mediterranean boy” or le gadjo in local parlance, but from a visual standpoint, it was more men than boys—such as those seen in many a Parisian runway—even only in terms of musculature. Mediterranean may suggest Orlebar Brown, but Mr Jacquemus was clear that however beach-ready the clothes were, they were also ready for a stroll down the heart of any city without trying to out-street the zeitgeist. As the confident among us are wont to say, “You put these clothes on and forget about them.”

Them equals some very fine trousers (and shorts) with pouch pockets or pocket flaps, relaxed suits that would not look out of pace in a beach wedding, and polo shirts that would likely be seen in a cruise rather than on a court. One polo shirt was worn with a tie— evocative of what Bruce Weber might have shot for GQ in the early ’80s. In all, these could be the clothes the cast of Call Me By Your Name would have worn if the tale took place in France rather than Italy. And because it can be compared to rather than contrast with the everyday, Jacquemus for men may be off to a very fine start. This is not a collection that will stoke raves, but it will find its place in male fashion gratification.

Photos: (top) Studio Premices (others)