NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 19, 2017
At the end of a New York Fashion Week that can generously be described as timid, the industry’s great showman Marc Jacobs stripped his runway down to the essentials. Advance word suggested he might, but the two rows of bare metal folding chairs marching narrowly across the Park Avenue Armory was a striking sight, nonetheless. There was no set, no music, no big hair and makeup statement, and no iPhone photography permitted. What gives?
Jacobs wasn’t doing interviews. We were warned about that in advance, too. But in another unusual move for the designer, he spelled out his thought process in writing. The collection, he said, was inspired by a documentary called Hip-Hop Evolution. “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 my representation of the well-studied dressing up of casual sportswear. It is an acknowledgement 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.”
Last season, Jacobs and his rave-inspired collection were the subject of online criticism for what was seen as cultural appropriation—his cast of mostly non-black models sported candy-color fake dreadlocks. Was this new collection a mea culpa or a kiss off? Even with the social media ban, the Internet is bound to make its own decision on that one. Out on Park Avenue, the models (a significantly more diverse group than last season, it should be noted) posed in front of two giant banks of speakers, and it didn’t take long for those pics to start flooding Instagram. In this reporter’s view, addressing his detractors was a brave move on Jacobs’s part. At a moment when designers are struggling to find brand-appropriate ways to acknowledge America’s roiling political and social issues, he appears more engaged than most.
But what did this collection have to say about how to dress next Fall? That, at least, is quite simple. That a fur-collared jacket and a thigh-skimming party dress is something you should wear with sheer stockings and sturdy, retro platforms. That track pants go with just about everything. That you can never have too much corduroy (a fact Jacobs and Miuccia Prada lately agree on). That the color brown and all its variations are beautiful. And that a hat with personality is absolutely essential. Also: If you’re going to wear jewelry, it might as well bling. These were not necessarily needle-moving fashion messages—designers have been cribbing from hip-hop for decades, and, as Jacobs acknowledges, it has become the defining mode of our day. But this collection at least had a sophisticated edge on its predecessor.
Marc Jacobs Fall 2017!