New York fashion week came to a suitably dramatic end on Wednesday night at the Marc Jacobs show. Dozens of big name models burst from a double doorway at one end of the historic Park Avenue Armory building’s 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall, one of the largest unobstructed spaces in the city.
By the time they reached the audience at the other end of the room they had fanned out like multi-coloured particles, expanding to the tune of Dream a Little Dream. Models including Alek Wek, Adut Akech and Gigi Hadid weaved their way between the audience – that included the actor Zendaya and director Sofia Coppola – seated on a smorgasbord of stools, benches and rocking chairs.
For his spring/summer 2020 collection, Jacobs was in a reflective mood. His 2001 show had taken place the night before 9/11. “It has been 18 years and a day we will never forget,” he said. The after party had been held on the Hudson, against a skyline that would be irrevocably changed within hours.
The 2001 show can be “seen in context as a tragically dazzling snapshot of life in New York before the world changed the next morning,” said a Paper Magazine article quoted in this show’s notes. At the time, many fashion journalists in town for the shows diverted to reporting on the attacks.
But this show, like the one of 2001, was a “celebration of life.” It was an exploration of iconic images, from “the genius of Karl [Lagerfeld]” to the “timeless style of Lee Radziwill”.
The clothes were high-fashion meets Annie’s Miss Hannigan, dressing up box chic that made for a maximalist whole and veering from 60s shifts to an 80s-style pinstripe powersuit to a Stetson. The American designer and former Louise Vuitton creative director’s recent preoccupation with volume was lived out in extravagantly proportioned dresses in Kermit-green and hot-pink.
A 70s thread, which echoed the “flower child” direction of Jacobs’ 2001 show, saw model Kaia Gerber dressed in a floor-length, statement sleeved dress decorated with florals enough to rival a Kew greenhouse. There was a pair of patchwork denim flares, wide-legged jumpsuits and a blouse with sharp, statement collars. Jacobs took his end-of-show bow, the signal that New York fashion week is over for another season, wearing glam-rock-high red platform boots. The inspiration of “the effortless coolness of Anita Pallenberg”, an icon of so-called boho-chic, was present in the collection’s wide-brimmed floppy hats, feathers and long, flowing dresses.
The colour palette didn’t discriminate – deep burgundy velvet trousers were teamed with a post box red jacket and there was a hat and jacket combination in Ikea-blue and yellow.
The big-name makeup artist Pat McGrath, along with a team that included Jin Soon Choi and Mei Kawajiri, had been tasked with creating individual beauty looks – from metallic eyeshadows and voluminous eyelashes – for the models.
In recent years there has been a lot of speculation about the future of the brand, with rumours of decline and possible closure.
Earlier this year the designer announced a new venture, The Marc Jacobs. This more affordable offshoot of the brand comes four years after the closure of his previous more accessible line, Marc by Marc Jacobs.
There have also been controversies swirling around some of Jacobs’ designs. In 2016 he was widely criticised for a show in which largely white models were styled with multi-coloured dreadlocks, later admitting “maybe I’ve been insensitive.” More recently the designer, considered by many to have popularised the grunge look within the fashion industry, was accused by the estate of the band Nirvana of copyright infringement – the designer’s Redux Grunge collection featured a “smiley face” similar to the one used by Nirvana as their logo. Jacobs’ lawyers filed for a dismissal of the case.