Chaotic Show, Muted Clothes

Marc Jacobs casts aside the theatrical for performance


Marc Jacobs AW 2020 P1

This is not the close of NYFW that one expects, not the bang that Marc Jacobs usually strikes. The expansive barn that is the Park Avenue Armory is, once again, free of sets, in which models and the like could set themselves free. And they do. If confusion sets in after the first minute, it is understandable. In one corner, you could have been seeing a Savage X Fenty show, in another, it could have been Yeezy (in colour!), and then suddenly, a march of Michael Kors!

It is frenetic; the video cameras unable to keep up. Dancers are dancing their modern, performance-art-type moves, and models are marching in their modern, performance-be-damned struts. Dancers are dressed by Marc Jacobs, models are in Marc Jacobs, but which are the runway clothes and which are costume? Perhaps there is no division since dancers and models are just in clothes—what in NYFW this season has been happily called “real clothes”. Marc Jacobs, believe it, gets real, even if it’s Insta-real.

Marc Jacobs AW 2020 G1Marc Jacobs AW 2020 G2

Or, is New York’s biggest name not pushing himself anymore? The present climate—political and social—not conducive to audacious creativity? Perhaps there had been enough homage to Yves Saint Laurent and Comme des Garçons? After all, excessive and prolonged adulation can lead to derivation, conscious or not. So this season, Mr Jacobs returns to his roots, with a bit of old Marc, Studio 52 Marc, Bleeker Street Marc, Mercer Hotel Marc, Marc by Marc Jacobs Marc, happily married Marc (those who have tied the knot tends to pare down, no?), and, for good measure, an imaginary Marc for Gap Marc. Well, Mr Jacobs knows he’s on home turf.

Amid the frenetic presentation (even Miley Cyrus’s unexpected appearance is missed), some of the clothes make you wonder why they deserve a runway: a trio of lame slip-like dresses, a few of the smart and neat skirt-suits, even those evening gowns that look a tad like the one Gwyneth Paltrow wore to accept her Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar. Nothing wrong with the clothes per se; they could just go straight to the store(s), skipping the show. So much, in fact, appear to be just clothes styled to be fashion, with more than a handful of underpants to give a rising (and possibly threatening) Rihanna a run for her money.

Marc Jacobs AW 2020 G3Marc Jacobs AW 2020 G4

Somewhere in the mix is parody of the ’60s. How else would you describe an unconvincing Bella Hadid with big, comb-back hair, in that black dress—period does come to mind—and white opera gloves? If this was on a red carpet, any red carpet, she would not have made the best, nor worst dress list. What’s worse than being unplaced? What Ms Hadid wears isn’t necessarily bad, just pointless. But what is second-rate-and-cheap-looking are the one blouse, as well as two body-enhancing dresses, made entirely of flattened rosettes—the stitching together of hand-shaped florals, an idea fashion students love to adopt when they are short of funds to buy fabric of a certain sumptuousness. Besides, it looks too craft-like for someone allegedly enamoured with couture.

And those court shoes, with terribly pointy toes to boot! Are we seeing a return to heels, just as the other collections are suggesting we abandon sneakers? Well, if the dancers can dance in them, you can walk in them—that seems to be the message. But it is, in fact, hard to read this collection. Could this be just a lull for Marc Jacobs? Or are we, henceforth, seeing more of proper (but not prim) clothes that the brand has to sell, rather than for you to savour?

Photos:  Filippo Fior/