Yesterday we looked at a collection showcased during New York Fashion Week that moved from the vividly bright colours and graphics of the '80s. Moods borrowed from the same decade also appeared last Wednesday night on Marc Jacobs' runway.
Leaving streetwear behind, Jacobs seemed to turn to the elegance of the mid-'80s fashion shows. Staged at the Park Avenue Armoury, the runway opened with ample coats with bold shoulders that called to mind Claude Montana's A/W 1984 enormous jackets.
Long high-waisted leather or plaid skirts, pouf skirts, carrot-shaped leather trousers cinched at the waist by big bow belts seemed lifted from Montana's collections (just check out Montana's 1985/86 show on YouTube to get an idea...), but there were also hints at Mugler.
The big and bigger shoulders were the focus of the entire collection (certainly a nightmare for those who lived through it all in the '80s and spent part of their days negotiating doorstep access...) and most looks were accessorised with wide-brimmed hats by Stephen Jones that looked reminiscent of the hat donned by Madonna on the cover of the single for "La Isla Bonita", but also evoked the casual elegance of pop duo Mel & Kim (even though in Jacobs' case the hats completely hid the faces of the models).
Mainly matched with scarves, the hats were also reminiscent of Francesco Scavullo's 1966 shoot for Harper's Bazaar of a Bonnie Cashin's ensemble (yes, the Cashin Copy syndrome is here to stay).
Sumptuous decorative fabrics formed gigantic roses à la Comme des Garçons circa A/W 2013 that decorated the neck and the waist. The giant roses came back in the final red ensemble that looked like a sort of Marc Jacobs-meets-Kawakubo hybrid.
Variation was briefly added via asymmetries and diagonal seams, but volumes remained huge throughout the collection, even though Jacobs shrank the silhouette for his draped stretch wool dresses and occasionally recalibrated it in one or two trouser ensembles such as the one with the high-waisted pants matched with a polka-dot blouse (a look that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Sade video from the '80s...).
The colours and the final evening dresses looked more Yves Saint Laurent (with a touch of Lacroix) than Montana and revealed the designer as the main inspiration, especially when it came to the combination of jewel tones that characterised the collection.
The colours were also replicated in the hairstyles courtesy of Redken global creative director Guido Palau and Redken global colour director Josh Wood, that seemed to hint at the avant-garde nightclub hues created in the late '70s by Trevor Sorbie.
Jacobs' label is not doing well at the moment: retail revenue halved in the last four years from $650m to around $300m and some of the brand's stores will be closing down soon. Besides, the designer has been accused more than once of plagiarising his collections, while PETA activists protested outside the New York show against the use of fur in his collections.
In the meantime, Raf Simons at Calvin Klein has taken Jacobs' place as the hot ticket of New York Fashion Week, while Baja East's John Targon was hired at the company to work on the contemporary line. Targon's main aim will be working on the lower-priced product range to attract younger consumers.
What has this got to do with the collection? Well, Jacobs seemed to respond to all these issues and in particular to commercial pressures about producing and selling more by turning for inspiration to an age of extremes and excesses and bringing Haute Couture styles and fabrics (think double-faced cashmere, taffeta, velvet and satin) on a ready-to-wear runway, and using them as a metaphorical two-finger salute against the adverse forces of power.
Yet it's not just Jacobs' company that is going through some tough times, in a way fashion weeks are becoming useless.
Schedules are irrelevant as some designers are combining men and womenswear together, while planning to release more capsule collections and products throughout the year.
Besides, having lost some of the major acts showcasing there (Thom Browne, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Joseph Altuzarra who decamped to Paris, while Alexander Wang stated he is abandoning the traditional fashion schedule, opting to show his new collections in June and December), New York has become a mix and match of immature talents with no direction.
The same may be said about London where the fashion media are vampirically looking for the next Alexander McQueen while mistaking young designers with very little knowledge about fabrics and almost no tailoring skills for fully-fledged geniuses.
It will probably take Jacobs more than just a Montana jacket to revamp his fortunes, after all, in the economic and political climate we are living in, it is highly unlikely that fashion fantasy will save us.
For what regards putting some order into the fashion week schedules or in the system in general, well, that seems practically impossible: it is indeed clear that the end of the system is just around the corner and, though grand, Jacobs' collection with its power shoulders à la "Dynasty" looks a bit like the proverbial session of shifting and rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic - it's a great effort, but it's desperately useless.