So much to process – on many levels.
That Marc Jacobs is one of fashion’s great impresarios is a given. Almost as much as he loves pure fashion, he loves fashion’s entertainment value, over the years becoming increasingly inclined to stage not just a fashion show, but a show. Both here and in Paris, his productions have swung raucous and wistful, lyrical and brash, always with pure fashion – and a pure, powerful fashion message – at the core.
On Thursday night, Jacobs flexed his showman’s muscle exponentially. The location, the Ziegfeld Theatre, provided the ruse: Movie magic! Drinks! Popcorn in cardboard! T-shirts in cardboard! “One Night Only” read the theater’s marquee outside on 54th Street, while inside, hot-pink video posters teased the main event, and pretty, fishnetted Marc Jacobs’ staffers worked the aisles distributing those movie-house essentials, Junior Mints and Hot Tamales.
From a fashion standpoint, the show was a bonanza, packed with great clothes and dizzying fun. But fun on a mission. This is Jacobs’ first collection following the dissolution of the Marc by Marc brand – but not the abandonment of the Marc by Marc price structure. In that sense, the event provided a template for what the reconfigured Marc Jacobs brand will look like.
With distance from his professional life in Paris (which he still visits frequently), Jacobs mulled his Americanism, considering, he said during a preview, “What is America for me? For me, America is New York City.” That lead to nostalgic musings while his affinity for Instagram triggered consideration of how today we’re bombarded with visuals. He thought of his personal theatrical obsession, iconic designers from Saint Laurent to Schiaparelli to Ralph Lauren, a BBC documentary on Bette Midler (she was at the show), and disconnected events from Robert Duffy’s wedding to watching the July 14th fireworks with Sofia Coppola in Paris. And most significantly, he considered his past collections. The far-flung stimuli converged into an explosion of fashion that featured a particular interest not recently explored on his runways: as he put it, “my love of high and low and taking ordinary and making it extraordinary.”
It was extraordinary, a (literally) red, white and blue eruption of fashion that addressed two points of criticism: that within a given season, his fashion range is too narrow, that from season to season, his mood swings are too sweeping.
Here, he took ownership of the diversity, his models cast as a bevy of young women arriving for a movie premiere, stopping for a step-and-repeat photo op before walking the runway to their seats. They were turned out in Forties glam, Eighties street, military, showgirl sass, undone Stars and Stripes, good old grunge and more. Jacobs showed most of it in highly decorated, piled-on combinations, the better to flaunt his brand’s newfound range. Plaid silk shirts (priced well south of the original Perry Ellis grunge versions), jeans, varsity sweaters integrated mostly seamlessly with his exquisitely rendered luxe offerings, with an emphasis on intricate embroideries.
Yet there was an uncharacteristic void: the kind of swelling, emotional and pointed fashion statement we’ve come to expect from Jacobs.
If this all-inclusive expression of his brand’s new range is a one-season choice – fantastic, and is in keeping with his ethos; the afore-noted mood swing being a house code. But it would be a shame if Jacobs feels drawn, whether by compulsion or obligation, to showcase the expanded range on the runway every season. He is one of fashion’s great storytellers. And, just like in the movies, some of the richest stories are the intimate ones.