The goal has been clear from the beginning. When Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley were hired to design Marc By Marc Jacobs in May, it was with the mission to redefine and reinvigorate the collection, a crucial component on the company’s path to an IPO. No pressure.
Hillier and Bartley’s big reveal was the women’s show held Tuesday at Pier 36 on the FDR — a space often used for professional basketball practices — here, set up like a skate park with ramps and jumps along the plywood runway. Their bosses should be pleased. The designers wasted no time establishing a strong point of view: The new Marc by Marc girl is badass, if charmingly so.
A culmination of street culture, grunge and sporty irreverence — the elements Marc Jacobs used to define the label in its infancy — the new look was filed under BMX ninjas.
“We’re going back to her roots and making her tougher,” said Bartley. “She’s this active person with energy, a bit feisty and sulky.”
Spare tailoring was established first with a plain black shirt over a white turtleneck bodysuit and navy trousers, amped up with extreme accessories: a shiny black obi and giant high-tops. There were sharp blazers, long wrap skirts and neat coats, one with a great oversize fit, all of it cut with an edge.
From there, Hillier and Bartley unleashed a surge of fearless, subversive spirit that mixed BMX style with Japanese manga and warrior motifs. Bold graphics in red, black and blue designed by Fergus Purcell of London’s Palace Skateboard popped on holographic T-shirt dresses and distressed jeans. A Breton striped shirt came in rubber, while a black-and-white checked top was tied with an exaggerated origamilike bow. It was fierce and fun, yet anchored in polish.
The show ended with oversize waffle sweaters and military jackets over full skirts in stiff layers of satin and tulle that honored and updated the original Marc by Marc spirit of moody, tomboy attitude. When Hillier and Bartley walked out to take their bow in front of Jacobs, who sat front row, he showed his approval with a standing ovation.