A conversation with Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent at Frieze London 2021 unpacking his exhibition exploring the dimensions of space within the context of the African diaspora.
Val d’Oise, France
‘L’Amour’ by Simon Porte Jacquemus
Photographed by Julien Boudet
Two seminal references, neither French, stood up in the maelstrom of imagery digested and appropriated by Simon Porte Jacquemus for his Spring Summer 2021 collection ‘L’Amour’, created with his team a distance during confinement. One was the Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s rendition of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with the Royal Swedish Ballet – set in a wheat field, enraptured dancers mount bales of hay before a cathartic scene where the summer solstice climaxes in a flurry of wheat sheaves launched skywards. The other was Slavic, traced back to the 1988 film ‘Le Temps des Gitans’ directed by Emir Kusturica – the heartfelt yet bloody tale of a gypsy boy with magical powers.
These bucolic inspirations lead Simon to the idea of a swirling catwalk embedded in a wheat field in Us, Val d’Oise, to the northwest of Paris. With guests dotted along its perimeter, the designer continued on his witty, naive fashion journey, calling upon an arrestingly beautiful cast of bodies to personify his idealised domestic narrative of summer youths and multicultural, non-conformist beauty. They came through grey evening skies swathed in spare linen dresses or shirts stained with Mìro-esque ink traces, not an army but a cohort of Jacquemus acolytes – waistbands unfurling, suits punched with hearts, skirts shivering with embroidered wheat, perhaps a pair of small cushions for a bra. With Simon, Picasso is never far, and here his rough frescos on the walls of the Chateau Castille in Uzès were a subtle print reference amongst other trailing foliage. And as always, peppered through his watercolour washes and sunburnt neutrals were a minutiae of thoughtful accents – a strawberry punnet bag, a leafy hair comb, a coiled daisy jewel or a leather plate holder straight out of a fancy picnic basket.
In a time when the fashion system is in a state of public and private turmoil, Simon’s gesture was bold – a physical fashion show for his nearest and dearest, seamlessly live broadcast to the world and justified by open-air social distancing in a wheat field, no less. His choice of natural fibres, the decision to show but twice a year since 2019, and the truly authentic diversity of race and body type in his cast are all commendable. Whether his garments strike a chord or not, Simon is one of the trailblazers for best practices in modern fashion storytelling. And these times will cut the wheat from the chaff.
Photography by Julien Boudet
Production by Bureau Betak
Casting by Piergiorgio Del Moro
Hair by Ramona Eschbach
Make-up by Petros Petrohilos
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