Yves Saint Laurent had the peasant. Cristobal Balenciaga had the flamenco. These muses - Saint Laurent's deriving from the countryside of Southern France, Balenciaga's from Spain - lived just over the border from one another. Simon Porte Jacquemus and Jonathan Anderson have of late tasked themselves with articulating a similar parallel. Anderson is batting for all things polka dots, artisan and sundrenched at Spanish house Loewe, whilst Jacquemus is batting for floppy straw hats, ruffles and sunshine escapism - well, for himself.
Sexy, carefree and casually cinematic, Jacquemus's take on glamour is timely, desirable - and frankly, a little bit gorgeous. It wasn't only the colour palette that was grounded, in shades of terracotta, nutmeg and olive - it was Jacquemus's referencing too. Having worked at the Comme des Garçons store, this untrained designer was seemingly bashing about in the world of Martin Margiela for a few seasons, removing sleeves and playing with circles and the like. But this year has seen him go home. Like an emotional anthropologist of his own past, his love of his hometown of Marseille and the pictures of his mother as a young woman are now the cornerstone of not only his world - but his collections. This kind of emotional transparency - dovetailed with a great visual eye - always comes good. It's effortless because the heart is involved. This year, the designer has also released a book, a short film - and an exhibition - all dedicated to the same narrative.
Here, for S/S 18, sarongs were the key silhouette. Skirts draped towards the centre, or wrapped to reveal a thigh-high split, were also sometimes worn with shirting that was twisted, as if the girls were wearing swathes of wrapped muslin and linen on a beach. Polka dots, ceramic earrings and fringed skirts evoked the dramatic stomp of a flamenco, whilst some graphic floral prints were almost primitive in their naïve nature. Jacquemus also jumped over the border into Balenciaga's Hispanic world of ruffled pannier style peplums - seen here worn wonky and off-kilter. With the show's venue being the Musée Picasso, Jacquemus made it clear that Spain was as much a part of this collection's story than France. With Cristobal and Yves often compared to the pairing equivalent of Picasso and Matisse, it seemed Jacquemus was inspired by the oeuvre of all four of these masters. (Those muddy 'native' prints could just have easily been a Matisse cut out or an African inspired mud-dying technique - á la Pablo Picasso.)
The genius of Vincent Van Gogh even hovered - via sunflower yellow dresses that whispered 'Provence'. In times like this, where cities such as London and New York can feel overpriced and oversaturated with busyness, clothes such as these are indicative of our collective desire to celebrate the joie de vivre of celebrating a woman's beauty, and to 'master' the art of just slowing down. (It's no wonder that Christian Lacroix is a fan of this designer!) This collection's existence is also possible because of the incredible legacy of Lacroix also, no doubt. And it's his endorsement that makes one warm to Jacquemus's world that little bit more.