The Park Avenue Armory was not made up this afternoon for the occasion of Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2017 show. There was a single set of 200-seat long rows in the middle of an empty room. Photos were not allowed. Across from my seat, Lil’ Kim sat wearing a gold aviator jacket and Mary Janes. She was genuinely thrilled to be there and it was refreshing to vibe on that energy. At 1:59 p.m., exactly one minute early, the show started.
There was no music at all, and after the first several looks previewed, the irony of that notion struck a strong chord. Exaggerated, high-crown caps; rectangular, amber-lens sunglasses with thick gold frames; oversized, corduroy jean jackets; chunky, gold charms hang at the tip of multiple half-zips — we were at the Grammys and it was 1970/1980-something. Only, again, there was no music. I could hear Lil’ Kim gushing about the collection. “That is so me, we are each other,” she said about a tiny, silk dress that was basically a camisole styled under an oversized jacket with fur collar. “Yes!,” she exclaimed, “need that jacket,” referring to a corduroy piece cloaking a similar mini dress — this one sparkly.
It was supposed to be completely about the clothes, that much was obvious. But when you’re Marc Jacobs, and truly the only designer on the New York calendar who ever does anything differently, it can never just be about the clothes. The show notes, titled “Respect,” carried a lot of sauce, too. Marc Jacobs wrote, “As a born and bred New Yorker, it was during my time at the High School of Art and Design when I began to see and feel the influence of hip-hop on other music as well as art and style. This collection is a representation of the well-studied dressing up of casual sportswear. It is an acknowledgment and gesture of my respect for the polish and consideration applied to fashion from a generation that will forever be the foundation of youth culture street style.”
This commentary was a clear response to the backlash Jacobs endured following last season’s dreadlocks fiasco; a plea to set the record straight. The no-phone rule, a nod to the once-ephemeral nature of the fashion show. “You’re there for a live experience,” he said last week to Bridget Foley of WWD. “If you don’t want to watch the live experience, then don’t go to the theater. If you don’t want to watch the live fashion show, then don’t go to the fashion show because it will be online in five minutes after the show.”
Overall, it was thrilling and somewhat emotional to be there. It was exactly what’s been missing from fashion week: something new but familiar, something soulful. A few moments of demented genius. Where the individual pieces of most other collections really need each other (the full looks) to survive, Marc Jacobs makes clothes that work just as well picked apart as they do in the context of his costume. And that is what it is, a performance, a costume. One so accurate and astute it moves you — back, forward, sideways.
Photos via Vogue Runway; feature photo via Getty Images; embedded photo via Marc Jacobs.