Fashion is moving in a million different directions. Everything and anything goes. There are no rules. Is it any wonder the customer is baffled? Designers seem to be throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. Endless collections from a mix of seasons are posted daily on WWD, Vogue.com, and The Impression.com. Nothing has really knocked my socks off until Monday night.
Marc Jacobs’ first runway show in almost two years (and launch of a new partnership with Bergdorf Goodman) finally gives us something to cheer about. Marc brilliantly addressed the moment’s mood with a luxurious yet sporty collection that emphasizes protection and comfort while retaining an underlying sense of ease. Its clean lines, unexpected combinations, graphic patterns, gorgeous colors, and inventive layering look modern, cool, and relevant. The collection is a celebration of the daily joy of dressing and confirmation that your everyday clothes should be crazy fabulous. Fashion with a capital “F.”
Great timing, I might add. The spotlight is on American designers past and present, thanks to the upcoming Costume Institute exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” September 18, 2021 – September 5, 2022. Quite frankly, it couldn’t be a better time for a resurgence in “Great American Sportswear,” with its focus on practicality and pragmatism but done in a way that is uplifted and inspiring. I always think of the late great Bonnie Cashin (1908- 2000).
“Practical dreamer” was how Bonnie described herself, and “Bonnie Cashin: Practical Dreamer” was also the title of an exhibition at The Museum at FIT that ran from September 2000 – January 2001. Cashin’s enthusiastic and intuitive approach produced eminently stylish yet practical clothing made of leather, suede, cashmere, and tweed, which was at once highly functional and visually compelling. We can sure use more of that these days.
Much has been made about elevated, updated basics in this past year and a half. The results can be dull. Marc showed it can be done in a way that is exuberant and bold, youthful yet ageless.
I am a huge fan of Marc’s. When he’s good, he’s good. The one thing Marc is not is consistent. Although, I guess you can say he is consistently inconsistent. Marc doesn’t have one signature identifiable look in the way that, for example, Ralph Rucci does. Like Miuccia Prada, Marc is one of fashion’s most notorious quick-change artists. They both purposely go against what they previously showed. It’s always a surprise.
Marc does have a certain aesthetic (he loves Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Miuccia Prada), Marc can be modern and futuristic, retro and vintage, grungy or elegant, clean-lined or decorative. Marc showed pictures of himself wearing the iconic black vinyl Courreges logo jacket on his recent Instagram posts, noting “it’s definitely having a moment; the shine of the vinyl and that logo.”
This led me to believe the fall collection would have a 60’s vibe. While I did see bits of Cardin and Rabanne, I also saw vestiges of Stephen Sprouse, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino (that brilliant Moncler Genius collaboration), Rick Owens, Japanese avant-garde creators, and Marc’s beloved grunge.
Marc wisely left off the dainty pearls, which are omnipresent in his Instagram postings, but because he has been wearing exaggerated platform boots as of late, it was not surprising that all of Marc’s models marched the runway in 5 or 6-inch flatform Mary Janes and ankle boots. In their body and face obscuring outfits, it was often hard to tell the difference between Kaia and Bella, and Jake and Vigo, and that was obviously the point. These clothes are made for everyone.
Meanwhile, those exaggerated flatforms might be a bit too precarious to wear in real life, but I do love the idea of footwear that gives you added height without a heel. They are a modern alternative to a heeled pump and ideally suited for now. I live in them lately and have been talking about them for months no
Notwithstanding a recent article in the Styles section of The New York Times, “High Heels Are Ready to Stomp Out Crocs and Birks” by Ruth La Ferla, June 7, 2021, suggesting that high heels would replace flats (several women sang their praises even though they admitted they are uncomfortable), I’m not buying it. I don’t see women on the street wearing them.
One can imagine striding through the city feeling tall, confident, and well-dressed head to toe wearing Marc’s fantastic op-art coats (I love how Marc blew up his logo and made it abstract and graphic) and giant duvet coats with floor-sweeping stoles, the awesome elongated cashmere turtleneck sweaters with high necks that can double as face masks, the slouchy floor-sweeping satin trousers. But honestly, the beauty of the collection goes way beyond the actual clothes shown.
There are plenty of takeaways from Marc’s fall collection: the irreverent approach, the offbeat color combinations, the inventive combinations of black and white, the creative layering, the oversized proportions, the use of paillettes for day, the blurring of the lines between street and couture, day and night. As I always love to point out, the best thing about seeing an inspiring collection like this is how it makes me rethink fashion and apply it to my own wardrobe without necessarily buying anything new.
And of course, how it makes me dream. Right now, I’m dreaming of cold weather and having a chance to walk around the city wearing my graphic black and white coats, oversized puffers, elongated scarves, and chunky sweaters.