LOVE and WARdrobe

Dancing on the rooftops, everybody get your Marc out

Returning to New York brings out Marc Jacobs reflective side as he turns to American history for Spring/Summer.

9.05pm: Victoria Beckham, front row in her own ready-to-wear design…check. Stefan Beckman hall of mirrors set design…check. Line of lavishly dressed models on time…this time, check. Steering away from last season’s two-hour late disaster, Marc Jacobs asserted an extravagant show with the only show-stopper being the clothes themselves.

Teetering to a jarring rendition of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, Jacobs provided a kaleidoscope of haphazard style that can only be described as a demonstration of feminine power.

Model Jamie Bochert opened the show at the Park Avenue Armoury in a high-waist metallic-leather tiered skirt, plaid shirt and shoulder padded jacket; a miss-mash of texture and fabric which could easily have been unsightly if it had been attempted by anyone other than the King of Grunge.

Referencing everything from the Suffragette Movement of 1918 to the Little House on the Prairie, the collection seemed very Great Depression inspired. The long pencil skirts, the peak-shouldered blazer jackets and high-necklines suggest that fashion should return to its traditional values. Is it a coincidence that as the wheat shortage of the Dust Bowl era is now reoccurring, Jacobs feels the urge to backdate to the 1920s? The milliner Stephen Jones designed the flat straw boater hat that was reminiscent of the 1920s , whilst the exaggerated-shoulder trouser suits hinted at 1940s secretarial style, placed alongside 1930s brimless- hats. Chunky bracelets and pin heels added a contemporary edge to the multi-era-referencing show which seemed to cite a range of styles from 1914-1940; from one World War to the next.

Merging the English Mary Poppins with Eliza Doolittle, the show did leave one feeling as if chimney sweeps dancing with umbrellas should emerge from the backdrop, jazz-handing to Broadway numbers. However, it seems Marc Jacobs has been watching his 1930s films of late. Ignoring the remake of the film ‘The Women’, the collection has been inspired by the original 1939 version about a woman who discovers her husband has been unfaithful with a perfume-counter girl. The costumes in the film were donned by Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer, with Jacobs taking details from the designs such as the bustles, washerwoman apron dresses and gingham shirts to create an eclectic mix of country-cum-city decadence.

Accessories being the mainstay to every designer’s bursting wallet, Jacobs made sure the models were each clutching a bag to entice the impressionable front row. Ranging from quilted chain-link clutches to bags incorporating layers of silk, leather, blue snakeskin and zebra print with tulip-shaped tassels, he certainly wasn’t afraid to create visual insanity. And just when you thought he couldn’t mix it up anymore, a damask pattern seemed to glisten over lamé , while Ghanaian cloth was layered with Obi belts (a Japanese favourite; but we must remember; he is big in Japan.)

Speaking backstage about his staging, Marc Jacobs said the hall of mirrors represented ‘the joy of vanity’. And by the looks of it, he gained much joy walking out to rapturous applause in his Marc Jacobs SS09-inspired skirt. It seems he has learnt the rules of self-promotion from La Beckham; but let’s face it, with a collection like this, who wouldn’t want to wear it.