By Monday afternoon, fashion “week” had already felt endless, the nonstop lineup of shows, including some of the better ones, vaporizing indistinctly in the communal memory. Sometimes it all blurs together like that. And sometimes it doesn’t.
A definitive “doesn’t” occurred on Monday night when Marc Jacobs, the constant nominee who hasn’t managed to cop the CFDA award for women’s clothes in years, sent out a masterfully audacious collection at the 69th Regiment Armory. It counted among his more overtly beautiful efforts, in a fantastical Coppélia-meets-Pierrot-meets-G.I.Joe-meets-Geisha-meets-Americana-meets-Comme des Garçons kind of way. Jacobs delivered it with a strangeness that infused the confectionary froth —and there was an explosion of it — with a touch of subversion, as sincere as it was savvy.
He started simply enough: a shrunken belted raincoat over a ruff-collared blouse. But soon that little frill exploded into swirls of giant, lettuce-edged flounces popping with pearls as they swirled and swathed the body as skirts, bustiers, dresses and pantaloons. What wasn’t ruffled was brocaded; what wasn’t brocaded was ruched, shirred, sequined or cut into harlequin points. There were bras over shirts over briefs, shorts suits over sheer harem pants, ruffled tubes over billowing skirts, an oh-so-prim sweater dress cut away in back over corset and panties. And if it all left to the imagination spring’s complete retail range — though one could point out the great classic coats, juiced-up suits and ingenious knitwear, for starters, as well as tricked-out geta-inspired shoes — well, Jacobs isn’t interested in assembling the fashion masses twice annually for a merch session. “It’s not just about selling clothes,” he said the day before the show. “It’s about giving people things to dream of and romanticize about.” And so he did — a dream called Fashion.