Marc Jacobs is one of few New York designers to buck the city’s reputation for no-imagination sportswear. For fall he once again blended oblique old-school glamour with a highly polished sense of now. To a cacophonous soundtrack of violin strikes, his girls walked quickly in clothes that, at first blush, appeared more sophisticated than their years — as if they were lost in opulent reverie. A stoic Erin O’Connor opened, followed by the whole crop of new-gen models, each dripping in extravagant sequins, elaborate patchwork, rich brocades, and dramatic furs — as well as several mohair plaids, a nod to Jacobs’ grunge days.
There was good reason for all the fanciful retrospection. The show was an ode to the great Diana Vreeland, she of limitless powers of fantasy and self-invention. The walls and backdrop in the Park Avenue Armory were rendered as a re-creation of the famed fashion editor’s red-lacquered salon in her home (also on Park Avenue, just down the street), where many of her enigmatic proclamations were first uttered. She fondly called it her “garden in hell.”
Among her many accomplishments — before joining Vogue as editor-in-chief and later rescuing the Met’s yearly fashion exhibition and the Met Gala itself — Vreeland is credited with essentially shaping American fashion as we know it. Working at Harper’s Bazaar (where she wrote her Why Don’t You? column) before, during and after WWII, she salvaged the know-how of shuttered Paris couture houses and merged it with American can-do ingenuity. During those 25 years at the magazine, she ignited a bustling postwar industry with global reach smack in the middle of Manhattan. Couldn’t the same be said for Marc Jacobs, still fresh from his Louis Vuitton sojourn?