“We have art not to die of the truth.” Marc Jacobs quoted Friedrich Nietzsche in his show notes. Confronted with a rogue Supreme Court determined to strip women of their reproductive rights, with Clarence Thomas threatening to attack gay marriage next and even to make contraception illegal, fury may give way to despair. But that’s not where Jacobs is at. “Creativity is essential to living,” his statement read. A year ago, most of us were looking ahead to a brighter 2022. Last June, Jacobs channeled that energy into a dynamic collection. That brighter future hasn’t really materialized, as we’re all too aware. Covid keeps coming back in successive waves, Russia continues its atrocious invasion in Ukraine, and in America the will of the majority has been hijacked by the minority. Nevertheless, Jacobs persists. Supersizing jeans and jean jackets, or treating denim to surface treatments that made the all-American classic look more like French couture. Adding so much stuffing to ribbed knit sweaters they could double as pillows. Toying with Gilded Age bustles – evoking them by wrapping jackets around the waist. And cutting ball gowns of exuberant volume in unexpected, even strange fabrics. His materials list included, but wasn’t limited to, foil, glass, paper, plaster, plastic, rubber, and vinyl. Interspersed with that excess, however, there was spareness. Jacobs lowered the waistlines of column skirts and cropped flares to bumster levels and accessorized them with barely-there bejeweled bikinis or the sparest of bustier tops. A pair of suited looks in black weren’t quite minimal, but they came close, a reminder of his talents as a tailor. As for the three matching looks at the beginning of the show in gray, hospital green, and lavender – were they Jacobs’s version of scrubs? Given the recent moves by the Supreme Court, it was hard to think otherwise. Adding to the dystopian vibe: the models’ hairdos, which were “shaved” on the sides with bumper bangs in a style that called to mind Sean Young’s Blade Runner replicant. And yet. All this was paraded out in the Public Library with opera gloves and sky-high white or black mary jane platforms. Dressed up in spite of the circumstances. Or maybe because of them? Definitely because of them. Marc Jacobs is a fighter, whose medium happens to be fashion. Knock-out F-A-S-H-I-O-N.
New York Fashion Week may officially be over, but that didn’t stop one of it most beloved showmen from unveiling a surprise new collection on Instagram. What’s New York’s fashion scene without Marc Jacobs? The 10 look line-up (which will be available exclusively at Bergdorfs), is essentially a glamorous reworking of Marc’s remarkable autumn-winter 2021, with their grand silhouettes slashed into new skin-baring forms, cargo pants transformed into sweeping statement skirts, and brilliant paillette embellishments wrapped into something stunningly new. The collection came up quite spontaneously. As Jacobs avoided the phygital fashion and virtual shows which largely defined this industry through 2020 and 2021, he instead waited until he had the potential of a live runway to create a collection for. “We were like, ‘we’re not showing until we can do a show the way we show,’” Marc told I-D. “But then, this time, me and Joseph [Carter, from his design team] and Alastair (McKimm, Marc’s collaborator) decided that we were going to make some clothes. And we were going to photograph them.” In result, this new collection appears exceptionally impactful, something of a deeply desirable dystopian fantasy. “We played with the clothes that we made before in order to make other, new clothes,” he explained. So paillette pieces were slashed and wrapped into new apparitions, while a denim jacket draped on the body to become a fabulous sculpted stole. Couture-level deconstruction, something the designer is obsessed with lately. “There was this word that kept going around early on in the process: elevate,” Marc laughed. “‘It has to be elevated, it has to be elevated.’ I looked it up in the dictionary – and to elevate has two definitions. Firstly: to raise or lift something up to a higher position, and secondly: to raise to a more important or impressive level.” He managed to tap into both meanings with this mind-blowing offering, as we can see.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
There are those collections in fashion history that just get better with time. For a while now, I’m absolutely obsessed with Louis Vuitton‘s autumn-winter 2010 – one of the best collections created by Marc Jacobs for the French maison. “And God Created Woman” announced the program, bringing up thoughts of the era of the young Bardot, of fifties-sixties wasp waists, and circle skirts. At the time, Mad Men was on everyone’s minds and TV screens (those were the pre-Netflix times…), and that same season, Miuccia Prada also went for the retro ultra-femininity. Jacobs’ collection was stark contrast casting-wise (lets not forget 2010 was peak time of the super-skinny-model standard) as the designer called on Laetitia Casta, Bar Refaeli, Catherine McNeil, Karolina Kurkova, and finally Elle Macpherson, all women whose physical attributes have acted as a disqualification for fashion show participation for years. The rehabilitation of the embonpoint was done with refinement. Marc framed it more as a fresh, feminine, ingenue look, with hair scraped back into high, bouncy B.B. ponytails; clean makeup; and square-toed, block-heeled pumps trimmed with flat bows. The show swung along prettily as a fountain sprayed and jolly fifties movie music played in the middle of the tented courtyard, creating that quintessentially Parisian atmosphere, a sense of all being right in the best of all possible cities to be appreciated as a woman. Not only the lady-like silhouette was the main focus – the charming details and trimmings exemplified the LV knack for classy detail, as in fur buttons, collars and glittery heels. I sometimes really miss Marc’s Louis Vuitton…
Collages by Edward Kanarecki.