That rumours of the artistic demise of the New York fashion week celebrity Marc Jacobs had been vastly exaggerated was evident when Anna Wintour bankrupt into a run on Park Avenue to make sure she arrived on mores for the start of Jacobs’ show. Even the US Vogue editor-in-chief, unexcelled in her power over the city’s fashion scene, could not have the means to miss this.
Last month, Jacobs addressed unremitting rumours that his label was in financial difficulties, telling Ladies’s Wear Daily there was no truth in gossip that he was set to close by over creative control, and adding that the talk was “upsetting and stressful” to his pole.
His show on Wednesday – rumoured to be in danger of being cancelled – went to the fore, and to a full house which included Nicki Minaj and Raf Simons, originator at that other Manhattan fashion institution, Calvin Klein.
The one unfailing of Jacobs’ New York fashion week shows is that whichever way the influential winds of commercial fashion are blowing, he will send his varieties striding in the opposite direction, and most likely in really kooky shoes.
And so it was that at a quickly when most designers are reframing their shows as immersive, multi-sensory sort experiences – a street party with burgers in greaseproof instrument at Alexander Wang; a black-tie dinner amid a collection of James Relationship level cars at Ralph Lauren – Jacobs did the exact en face, stripping the catwalk show to its bare bones.
A long, lone row of folding chairs were lined up around the Park Avenue Armory. Two minutes after the landed 6pm start time, the show began in silence. And so it continued, the staidness of the parade a foil to the eccentricity of the clothes, the only sound that of the caller whose job it is to advice each model to “go”, until an opera-flooded finale.
The collection was a pilgrimage – provocatively, in the context of rumour about the label’s future – entirely the Marc Jacobs archives. The muse was Kate Moss at the Met Joyous in 2009, when the model was dressed by Jacobs in a draped chainmail bright mini-gown with matching turban. (The longtime Jacobs dream Sofia Coppola, recently photographed in a turban by Steven Meisel, was also namechecked by the draughtsman.)
The satin headwraps, created by the British milliner Stephen Jones, a longstanding Jacobs collaborator, were a immutable throughout the collection. Depending on the model, the outfit, the light or the summing-up of jewelled brooches, they seemed at various points to conjure Nefertiti, Greta Garbo, north African headwraps, and Vermeer’s Betrothed with a Pearl Earring.
Jacobs recently softened his initially punchy rejoinder to last year’s accusations of cultural appropriation, acknowledging that he may possess been insensitive. This collection showed that his rage for cross-cultural referencing was unbowed: prints roamed from Indonesian batik to Pucci spirals, from Savile Row pinstripe to Japanese florals.
The outlandishness of the shapes – harem-pant sportswear, giant-sized cardigans – was offset by shrewdly commercial grips. Flight bags, bumbags and duffels blended utilitarian give form ti with retro attitude. And in one aspect – perhaps more by calamity than design – the show was bang on trend. From Haribo orange to Kermit gullible, the “super-bold glowing-sunshine palette” was in step with the trend for superior colours which has swept New York.