In stark contrast to Marc Jacobs’s usual magnificent spectacles during fashion week, there was no elaborate stage, production, or cinematic music for his Fall/Winter 2017 show on Thursday. But that’s not to say it wasn’t still a success.
He staged his show at the grand Park Avenue Armory, built in 1880, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. For anyone familiar with the space (or not), it’s a gigantic former armory that possesses very little natural light, with wooden floors and a ceiling at least 20 feet high.
For this show, there were only two rows of seating, for an intimate feel. One row was placed on each side of the venue to create a narrow, pseudo runway between the guests, who sat on collapsible metal chairs.
And all of fashion’s “it” girls walked the show, including Kendall Jenner, Jamie Bochert, Binx Walton, Lexi Boling, and Hanne Gaby Odiele. In a refreshing change from some designers, nearly half of Marc Jacobs’s cast were models of color (as we would hope considering the hip-hop theme), both famous and fresh-faced, such as Alek Wek, Winnie Harlow, and Adwoa Aboah.
Jacobs’s minimalistic show approach was a big surprise to guests, as many didn’t even realize when the show started. Chatter amongst the crowd echoed throughout the armory and continued until at least three or four models passed, and guests finally realized the show had begun. But to the guests’ credit, there were none of the usual cues that the show had started — no music, change in lighting, etc. The only sound that could be heard was the soft creaking from the wooden floors as the models walked over them.
The collection was a clear-cut homage to New York’s street culture and hip-hop community. The palette of camel, burgundy, beige, tweed, and leopard was used throughout the collection, imparting a ’70s/’80s feel. A plethora of gold was everywhere. Gold dresses, skirts, blouses, and jewelry (large, chunky gold chain necklaces, key-shaped earrings, and bangles) were all present.
Highlights from the collection included the myriad sequin tops, fringe beaded dresses, argyle sweaters, baggy trousers, tracksuits, corduroy jackets, platform boots, backward baseball caps, and cloche hats that in this context brought to mind the Kangol bucket hats worn by LL Cool J and other B-boys and girls in the ’80s. In addition to old-school hip-hop, some looks reminded us heavily of the style seen on Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard on Empire.
Interestingly, the models at Marc didn’t take the usual path onto the runway and then backstage. Instead, they walked through the armory, straight out the front door, and down the steps, where photographers were staged to take runway photos.
The models then proceeded to sit down in an orderly fashion on the same metal chairs as the guests inside — which were set up outside the armory. It was an interesting picture, with the Marc Jacobs models all sitting in their hip-hop gear against the backdrop of the New York City streets and skyline as the honking noise from nearby cars and cabs permeated the air.
For Jacobs the stripped-down nature of the show, cutting out all the glitz and glamour of his past, was entirely deliberate. As he stated in a recent interview with WWD about why designers have shows in the first place, “Whether that means a very elaborate set or whether that’s a refusal to do a set or whether that’s no music — all are concepts or choices, and they have aesthetics and [result from] decisions. Everything is considered. It all goes into the viewer’s experience.”
Make what you will of the collection, but Jacobs came into it with a clear-cut idea, message, and experience he wanted his viewers to have. I would say he succeeded in his quest.
Click through the gallery above to see all the highlights from Jacobs’s most understated fashion show — perhaps ever.