nyfw: marc jacobs
(images via style)
so. can i tell you frankly that i really don’t want to do this? yes, the subject of yet another (when do the ever end, i sometimes wonder, feeling like the onslaught of this particular designer’s shows come faster and more violently, than any of the rest of his peers—even those showing haute couture) marc jacobs show at new york fashion week (s/s 2013) has turned the corner, and we all know what that inevitably means. the fawning begins. dial up your sugar consumption now!
and as always, as we broach the subject of another of mr. jacobs’ collections, i feel the need to defend myself preemptively, to put out there that, look! see my track record of house coverage! (s/s 2009, a/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, resort 2012, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, resort 2013) i’ve got a history of praising the man every bit as ardently as i may have dismissed his wares in the past (of course, it’s that latter part that gets me into trouble each time, much like my history with the house of chanel).
sometimes i feel like approval of mr. jacobs’ collections is a bit like a fashionie litmus test: can you see the brilliance of the designer’s work? one must, after all, if he or she desires entry into this highly-covetous arena. but on the other hand, when i’m at my more cynical (and this even comes from a person who has looked closer to see the genius, admitted flecks of it—if not all that the man is given credit for—is, after all, really there), i see it as more like a re-telling of the emporor’s new clothes: even if mr. jacobs has some inherent talent, surely we can agree even a master has some botched days? after all, look at the artist’s hand in the johannes vermeer work the art of painting, and maybe you can see my point.
but of course, in the end, none of this really seems to matter. even if the dutch master had his difficulties, like, he was alive in the seventeenth century, and apparently the new york fashion industry won’t accept a single fuck-up. in other words, mr. jacobs is invincible, or at least to hear the press tell it. now, i suppose i’ve been winding you up with all of this because i want to come to the point that, a few single exits excepted, i didn’t find his spring collection particularly compelling (cue the crickets and silence). that doesn’t mean i’m dismissing him wholly, or anything like that, though i’m sure some will take it to mean all the fire and brimstone and mayhem such sacrilege might occasion.
but do you know what? my inherent point here, my real point, is that you can find plenty of positive criticism of mr. jacobs’ work out there. and i’ll even quote a good amount of it for you. but on the other hand, when i call some of his creations a hard sell, say that a good number of those high-cropped tops, with low-waisted skirts (or those shortie dresses) looked cut to suit models’ physiques practically only, that his palette was more suited to the fall (and was rather lacklustre), when i say that his evening gowns looked stiff and plastic-y (as if they’d been crafted from leftover childrens’ cars’ tires), i realize i’m in the minority.
and guess what? you don’t have to concur! but on the other hand, i feel that it makes positive reviews of the designers’ work that much the better if one can fault him on his off days. if one can say frankly and honestly that they didn’t think a particular collection his best work without fear of furious retribution and anger (oh, the daggers coming my way just now!), simply because one has had the gall to question the will of the great and mighty marc jacobs. but truly? isn’t he supposed to be one of the more wearable ‘arty’ designers out there? and really, i felt a lot of it wouldn’t suit anyone but his most ardent devotees (and the models, of course).
but no matter. that’s simply my opinion, and now, i suppose, it’s time to hear the fawning. pay attention, for you may find you agree. “The proportions, for a start,” us vogue enthused, “were deliciously clunky and off-kilter; the new longer-length midi skirts were hip-slung to reveal a flash of navel beneath a shrunken abbreviated jacket, for instance, and even the horizontally banded black-and-white heels curved and flared in a faintly disorienting new way. Jacobs’s brilliant jersey evening sheaths had the kinetic energy of a Bridget Riley Op Art painting—eddying swirls of bi-color blocking, like bull’s-eye targets refracted in a fairground mirror, or antic mixes of stripes and checks.”
meanwhile, and this is the kind of thing that illustrates just how the fashionies try to set it up as an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, the wsj merrily announced that “(t)his season, we were in a party pad, with the back-of-set lined with 15 mirror-clad doors. One by one, they opened to reveal a model who marched out onto a triangular stage that dipped down into the audience. From suits, they moved on to slinky body hugging gowns that should be worn only by Beautiful People.” oh, okay, then, how does one determine whether or not they’re invited to be amongst that number?
“Spring, Jacobs said in a preview, would be about restraint. And ‘very, very brutal. Brutal in its simplicity. That’s our new word for the season,’” wwd reported. “If the word was harsher than the reality of the fashion, it accurately described the intensity of the shift. One of the essential marks of Jacobs’ work is his ability to make those giant seasonal moves while retaining every bit of his identity, a trait he shares with Miuccia Prada and not many others. Only a die-hard maximalist would consider his explosion of graphics — rubberized leather leopard prints, micro sequined checkerboards and stripes, stripes, stripes — examples of restraint, but by Jacobs’ standards, they were. They were also highly wearable; no deconstruction necessary to see the real clothes beneath the romance.”
and showing just how little of nyfw he has apparently seen (considering that we’ve seen bared midriffs everywhere, across practically all catwalks), the nyt’s eric wilson claimed that “for the first time in a while, a designer has successfully pushed the sex button in a compelling way,” in that “(h)is woman is actually quite exposed—all that bare midriff and hip bone. And yet she’s wearing a fairly straight office suit, as straight as those stripes. The most conventional, everyday garment is made sexy by the low-riding skirt.” true, i didn’t like this exposure, but in part because i felt i’d seen it before (everywhere!) but trust a critic to turn mr. jacobs into the first in a crowded room to, you know, like, have eyes.
anyway. “Jacobs distilled a radical moment of transition in style, between the suited young ladies of the early sixties and the free spirits of the later part of the decade, the kind of woman Edie was, passing from preppy-proper to pilled-out style icon in her patent leather and leopard spots, petaled hems and smudgy mascara-ed eyes. And stripes. So many stripes, parallel lines, black and white and sequined, like Lou Reed lyrics coming to life. But it’s the genius of Jacobs that something which was so powerfully evocative of the past didn’t seem retro or nostalgic. This is partly because his approach to anything that came before is so obviously cavalier. Look at the ease with which he renders his own immediate past—as in last season, with its OTT headgear—quite literally old hat,” gushed style.
finally, uk vogue quoted some expert-type as declaring “’(e)verything was so well-crafted and deliberately simplified.’ The skirts were often paired with crop-tops, encouraging the audience to start doing their sit-ups, now. In terms of pattern, one prevailed: Thick circus stripes, horizontal and vertical, were everywhere, in prisoner black-and-white to candy cane red-and-white. There were variations here and there - stiff ruffled collars, scalloped hems, sweet buttoned-up plackets on shirt-dresses, and a Mickey Mouse midriff that the audience almost audibly swooned for.” ouch. really? i guess i’m just wholly and totally not getting it. but i guess that’s the beauty of fashion—that we can decide for ourselves what we want to take, what discard as unflattering. or, when it comes to marc jacobs, you know, not.
(check out the full fashion show video here)