Last season’s Marc Jacobs may be seen provoked a social media row of epic proportions after the intriguer was accused of cultural appropriation for styling white models’ locks into dreadlocks.
Thursday’s show – marking the grand last of New York Fashion Week – seemed to be a reaction to that rage in more ways than one. The collection centred on hip hop – a plucky enslave given the internet’s recent ire – while its staging sought to investigate the culture of social media.
On entry, guests were asked not to use their phones at all, an extraordinary move in an industry in which designers usually encourage online advancement and even provide a hashtag.
Later, in a spectacular outdoor finale, the omertà was elevated, and models pretended to take photographs of the assembled masses who were charming photographs of them. It was all a bit Black Mirror.
The set was eerily sparse with by the skin of ones teeth two rows of chairs running down the centre of the 80-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling of the cavernous Greens Avenue Armory. The show started without music or example, the models passing closely by the hushed audience in a way that discern unusually intimate.
The clothes were typical Jacobs and densely referential, oppressive on Beastie Boys hats, gold jewellery, tracksuits and oversized shearling coatings, with grungey checked fabric in browns and oranges withdrawing the 1970s palette of blaxploitation movies and the Seattle chic with which Jacobs correct his name in the 1990s.
There were gold medallions grouping one fashioned after Jacobs’s dog Neville, who inevitably has a social average account of his own, and another which Jacobs himself wore as he fooled his bow, blowing kisses to Lil’ Kim who sat in the audience wearing seven-inch gold-sequinned Marc Jacobs programmes.
Before the show Jacobs told a work magazine, WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), he had hoped to create an ecosystem akin to a theatre performance, in which the clothes were viewed in surround. That context, he said in notes headed “respect” that were fist on attendees’ seats, was one of celebration. Flagging up a documentary he had recently be on the watched – Hip Hop Evolution – his intention, he said, was to demonstrate “an acknowledgement and gesture of my bearing for the polish and consideration applied to fashion from a generation that bequeath forever be the foundation of youth culture street style”.