It’s difficult to imagine that anything happening around a fashion show could surprise Rose Van Bosstraeten, the distinctive Belgian model, widely known as Roos, who opened Simon Porte Jacquemus’s show yesterday in Paris. She is, after all, an 18-year industry veteran, having been discovered walking home from school in 1998. But Jacquemus’s deportment was a revelation. “All designers are hectic,” said Van Bosstraeten, who was amazed at the calmness and confidence of the young Frenchman. “That was new to me.”
Save for a break to have her daughter, now 5, Van Bosstraeten has been working steadily. Long-haired, with almond-shaped blue eyes, and a ski-slope nose, she was a favorite of Nicolas Ghesquière’s when he was at Balenciaga, walking in every show from 1999 to 2004, and appearing four times in ads for the house. She was also a regular at Chanel and Dries Van Noten. More recently, she has become close to Guillaume Henry, for whom she opened and closed shows when he worked for Carven. Last year Jacquemus asked to meet her. “We had a chat,” Van Bosstraeten explains, “and he said, ‘I really want to work with you. I don’t know for what yet, but we will work together.’ ” Yesterday Jacquemus gave Van Bosstraeten the coveted first look in what turned out to be a breakthrough collection.
The model found the backstage area surprisingly relaxed, which is just one sign, she says, of how fashion has changed since she started. “Everything is so organized and the clothes are so ready. When I first started doing shows the clothes would sometimes almost fall off your body! Backstage was hectic and chaos; loads of people just hung out, even if they had nothing to do at the show itself. Today you have to be there four hours before, the makeup is almost nothing, the hair is pretty natural. It’s become a real business; it’s a totally different perspective. Before there was no Facebook or Instagram or selfies, it was more like, ‘let’s do a show and let’s have fun.’ Today it’s [about] the instant selling of everything.”
Jacquemus trades on sun-filled memories of his childhood in the South of France. “He claims he sells poetry,” explains Van Bosstraeten, when asked why she thought she was picked by the designer. “I think I represent a girl that is his type. I have a more artistic kind of face, so I fit in with that idea of poetry, and I just fit the clothes.” And how. Encore!
Follow Roos @rosevanbosstraeten.