Marc Jacobs Makes the Impossible Seem Possible


ne of my daughters looked right into my eyes this morning, giggled, then started to shriek at the top of her lungs with tears practically shooting out of her eyes, and within seconds — seconds, I tell you — the shriek turned back into hysterical laughter. Then silence and stoicism. Then a half smile accompanied by gentle jabber. I did nothing at all to prompt this viewing of the complete range of human emotion that lay bare before me, but it was a miracle to witness, as so much of human development is.

Then I went to the Marc Jacobs show and, leopard cape after striped cocoon coat after prairie dress and giant shoulder poof, there it was again. The full damn spectrum. Every degree of affection on the thermometer of life right in front of me, walking down a runway stripped down to a black box with the tune of live classical music playing behind it.

Some designers take your breath away because in the presence of their clothing, impulse consumes every last inch of you; you don’t have to think or say much, a switch just flips. I don’t know what that is. Maybe it’s the sensation of finally feeling seen or understood or less alone without having tried to get there. Like it just happened to you. But Marc Jacobs is not this kind of designer. He makes you work for the clothes. He takes you with him. You try to put his collection in a corner and he pulls it right back out, asking how the hell you thought a horsehair dress skirt decorated by feathers could possibly fit in a corner. And lest I even say: No one puts Christy Turlington in a corner.

But you didn’t realize it was coming! You never do. Here you thought he was negating all the volume and fanfare and frivolity of the season before with his own staples — a medley of coats (the really good, swinging kind) and trousers (cropped, but not dated) and check suits and look #3 — a navy blue crewneck sweater and black skirt pairing that is so common it seems somehow radical.

Look #5 inspired the hell out of me to get home, find a sparkly cropped jacket and a beanie, then stick a feather in my cap and call it Marcaroni.

At first I wondered if he just knew that the people were ready for a sturdy winter wardrobe. That the clown car was leaving the station, but then: look #6 with those bomb sleeves, and #9, a couture quality coat that demands an occasion and don’t get me started on #14, where Beetlejuice and Shirley Temple met for a drink then made a dress, and I remembered that sturdy does not necessitate the absence of spectacular.

I should have known — somehow, Marc Jacobs makes the most impossible clothing seem possible. This is probably why, as Vogue Runway’s Nicole Phelps put it, his collection is always “essential viewing” in New York. It contracts like a jellyfish, growing bigger and smaller, not to show off, but simply because it has to move. It is instinctive and effortless — as natural as laughing, then shrieking, then laughing again.

Runway photos via Vogue Runway.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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