Marc Jacobs held his latest fashion show in the Park Avenue Armony, a week before New York Fashion Week officially begins. Even if the king of New York’s fashion scene doesn’t return to the event, the entire outing felt very New York. The giant room was pitch dark and almost empty, save for a single row of chairs and spotlights illuminating the space in front of them. A solo violinist, Jennifer Koh, played a portion of Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach.” Jacobs gave the collection a name – “Heroes” – and included a Vivienne Westwood quote in his show notes more earnest than irreverent: “Fashion is life-enhancing, and I think it’s a lovely, generous thing to do for other people.” Westwood died in December at 81, and when she passed Jacobs posted a black-and-white photo of the legendary designer as a young woman. In it, she wears her bleached blond hair in spikes and a button-down stenciled with the words: “Be reasonable, demand the impossible.” At the time, Jacobs wrote that he was heartbroken, saying, “I continue to learn from your words, and all of your extraordinary creations.” This collection was an emotionally charged homage to the “godmother of punk,” from the top of the models’ peroxide wigs to the bottom of their platform shoes. Naomi Campbell, you’ll remember, famously fell in her platforms at Westwood’s autumn 1993 show. But Jacobs has learned much more than that from the late designer. The “tit tops” of Westwood’s Pirate collection circa 1981, in which she twisted t-shirt fabric into nipples, were reinterpreted as casual knit leotards and nipped and tucked sheath dresses. Here, the romantic silhouettes that Westwood lifted from old master paintings, with their bustles and bustiers, got a dressing down in military surplus, heavy on the cargo pockets. Jacobs recreated her signature volumes by turning a shirt into a skirt and tying its sleeves in the back, or by dressing models in upside-down jackets, hems dramatically framing their faces. A few of the models walked past with their arms crossed, pantomiming Westwood’s defiant audacity. Long-line coats with the geometric patchworks of quilts may not be of direct lineage, but their DIY-ness chimes with Westwood’s punk ethos. They’re special pieces, not precious because of the materials Jacobs used – they actually looked quite humble – but because of their remarkable handwork. Tinged with sadness, but also with moving, creative expression, this collection proves again that no one does it like Marc.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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