Even though I was in the “out of office” mode for a week, hiking in the Polish mountains, I watched last week’s livestream of Marc Jacobs’ graceful runway come-back, and I couldn’t be happier. Jacobs hasn’t shown a collection since his spectacular autumn-winter 2020 presentation circa February of last year, choreographed by Karole Armitage and starring a corps of professional dancers backing up the likes of Miley Cyrus and Bella Hadid. The year-long break from fashion shows wasn’t only a time of changes for the brand, but also a much-needed pause for Marc himself. There were even rumours the designer would ditch the runway forever. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and here we are with this radiant, bold and strong line-up. What we got was Marc Jacobs couture, a bold statement about the dynamism and allure of dramatic mid-century and Space Age-y proportions, filtered through an American sportswear vernacular and put together with an eye to the assemblage style and rule-breaking of Gen Z. Jacobs has clearly been paying attention to the ins and outs of fashion: there were both ribbed knit bodysuits and holographic paillette dresses here, which alternately conjured lockdown homewear and reemergence proposals seen elsewhere. But this collection was less about where we’ve been or the current fashion conversation than it was a raising of the fashion bar, which I think makes it so, so special. It read as an endorsement of adventurous, even extravagant silhouettes: puffer hoods and snoods, cocoon coats, skirts over pants, and faux fur scarves that trailed behind the models like trains. On one side, there were chunky sweaters and almost iridescent ski pants; and on the other, bodysuits cut out at the sides and back worn with flat front midi skirts in Op Art intarsias. Fashion with capital F, yes please! Outsized outerwear was a big story, some with enormous block logos, another outlined with long fringe in the same sans serif shapes. When this collection arrives at Bergdorf Goodman (the legendary New York retailer is said to be exclusively carrying the runway offering) in the autumn these jackets and coats will command attention. Probably the most spectacular pair of looks came in black and white bias stripes: clingy quilted dresses, topped by a puffer bolero in one case and a puffer stole in another. Marc’s press-notes, which titled the collection as “Happiness”, emphasised that joyful feeling of fashion being fashion at its best. “On the journey back to doing what we love most, in the wake of immeasurable loss, loneliness, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, I am reminded of why creativity is so vital to our existence. To life,” he wrote. All this came in the lead-up to this September’s Costume Institute exhibition devoted to American design, and curator Andrew Bolton’s insistence that it – it being American fashion – is indeed as emotionally resonant as its European counterpart. And Marc Jacobs definitely keeps on leading the pack of contemporary fashion designers from the USA.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.