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Marc Jacobs did it again, but this time on time and to the tune of a live performance by Sonic Youth. And it was fabulous, as he manipulated good ol’ sportswear into high-drama chic.

This story first appeared in the February 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For all the looks from Marc Jacobs’ show on Friday night, click here.

Imagine a world where an under-the-table Bowflex machine could send a guy to jail for 20 years, and where normal, intelligent people spend endless hours stressing about whether a particular event will start on time. Oh, that’s right — you don’t have to imagine it, you live there. Then imagine a world where 10 mesmerizing minutes can put dazzling punctuation on an entire exhausting week’s work. Oh, wait, you live there, too. Isn’t it great?

Fashion is the ultimate land of you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up. Yet most of us wouldn’t trade our world for any other, and moments like the one Marc Jacobs provided on Friday night are the primary reason. Yes, it started at a prompt 7:15 or so, the 15-minute delay due to late arrivals. In fact, before the show, Jacobs was out working the room, that vast, now-infamous expanse that is the 69th Regiment Armory, encouraging his guests to hurry along. “Get into your seat, Victoria,” he instructed Mrs. Beckham, while giving her a semigentle nudge.

So grateful kudos for the timely start. But this show was much better than on time; it was remarkable. Jacobs is one of very few designers — Miuccia Prada is another — who can in successive seasons present collections that look diametrically opposed yet completely signature. Here, he offered an antithesis to the frenetic surrealist sexual shenanigans of spring. This collection was everything that one was not — controlled, covered-up, structured and, on the surface, at least, calm, a word the designer stressed repeatedly the night before. “The clothes are not conceptual. They’re calm. But,” he added, “with a bit of perversity. It’s hard-core soft core.”

And ultrahaute American. Jacobs manipulated one of his favorite things, good old familiar sportswear, into a tour de force of chic as pointed as Stephen Jones’ colorful three-corner hats. Throughout, high drama alternated with the aforementioned calm, to the music of Sonic Youth, no less, who performed live on stage.

The lineup was extraordinary, literally, as often Jacobs took plain classics — shirtdress, wrap coat — and added massive volume in back via precision bunching or deep vertical folds. Otherwise, he luxed up the basics — shirts, slouchy trousers, walking shorts — in supertony materials and added sculptural sterling silver jewelry. Among the show’s many stars: the sweaters (of course) and the coats, cut roomy with a touch of the Eighties. And his colors were a joy: soothing pastels, lilac, aqua and pink, played against time-honored sporty neutrals. Calm? Perhaps. But a calm that roared.


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