So let’s tell the world about it now

Happy days are here again

Emotion courses through Marc Jacobs’ work; it always has. The showJacobs staged on Thursday night was his first since the ending of histenure at Louis Vuitton. His house is now at a critical transition pointas it prepares for an IPO — never a cakewalk, but perhaps even morefraught for a company that has always operated more on gut feeling thantextbook strategy. It’s not surprising then, that emotion raced throughJacobs’ show that brought the New York season to a provocative close.

It was beautiful — chic, unfettered and, typical of Jacobs, a reversalof last season’s dark, highly embellished Victorian melodrama. “There’salways a reaction to the thing before, the idea of wanting to see thingsthat seem fresh and unadorned,” Jacobs said during a preview. “I wantedto keep it very light, very soft, very fresh, and a very neutralpalette with just slight hints of color, cosmetics colors.”

Light in color, soft to the touch. Yet this was no festive romp, but asober illumination, disquieting even, with a subtext of maturation. “Welooked at women like Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange,” Jacobs said.“Women we admire and respect and who have a sort of strength without anyaggressivity, and without it being a discussion about youth.”

The set featured an arrangement of voluptuous clouds — 400soft-sculpture puffs suspended from the Armory rafters. Picture-bookpretty upon arrival, they threw ominous shadows as the show progressed.And on the soundtrack, the Depression-era anthem, really more astatement of resolve than of fact, “Happy Days are Here Again,” given ineerie recitation by Lange.

The barefaced models wore blunt-cutwigs secured with wide headbands, their countenance suggesting turmoilbeneath the serene facade. Spareness ruled in side-slit dresses andtunic-and-pants pairings that strode the Sixties. These came in blocksof soft hues — ivories, pinks, peaches, taupes, browns — withinteresting curved seaming. Jacobs worked in racy, lean ribbed-knittunics over matching stovepipe pants and cozied up the calm with amazingmink bombers in soft degradés of color. The mood grew bolder withhigher-contrast short dresses and over-the-knee boots that had, despitethe stated sartorial platform of nonaggression, a hint of she-warrior.

Still, Jacobs preferred calm over conflict. After a brief moment ofcrystal pizazz, evening turned lyrical with some dresses crafted fromgentle organza tiers and others hand-painted in deft imitation. Eitherway, they were exquisite.

As for the bags, they were mostlyclassic, IPO-friendly shapes in ultraluxurious suede, box calf, ostrich,shirred mink, python. Happy days here again? Fashion wise, through fairand stormy weather, they never left.

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