Marc Jacobs closed out New York Fashion Week here Thursday night on a high note, presenting a seductively serpentine fall and winter 2015 collection that proved to be equal parts delightful and deadly.
We should have had an inkling that something sinister was afoot when the foyer of the Park Avenue Armory was lined with white-jacketed men offering glasses of vodka to the guests. And we remember thinking how odd it was that the cavernous interior of the armory – where only days before Tommy Hilfiger had practically constructed an entire football field – was narrowed to an intimate space with barely five rows of seats on either side of the runway.
But the walls flanking the space were painted a curious shade of red and we became distracted picking out shapes we recognized – a flower vase here or a mirror frame there. The backdrop at the top of the runway was an almost impressionistic rendition of a salon – complete with comfortable-looking couches and chairs. (According to reports it was partially inspired by Diana Vreeland’s apartment – which would make sense since the severe hair and makeup was inspired by the paragon of pulled-together perfection.)
Then the show started – signaled by soaring strings on the soundtrack – and the runway began to fill with scowling models, striding severely, their hair pulled into tight bulbs atop their heads. But the cartoonish take on the dominatrix practically went unnoticed thanks to the caliber of the clothes – a far more put-together, dressed-up look than has graced the women’s runways elsewhere this week. The Marc Jacobs woman is determined to make an effort – and not just an effort to inflict pain, either.
Body-hugging dresses had wide beaded bands that heightened to constrictive look and whip-skinny black belts circling the waists of double-faced coats, brocade jackets with leopard-print lapels and pocket flaps helped keep the pleasure/pain vibe top of mind. There were also grommet covered skirts, grommet dresses and a range of exquisitely embroidered sweaters, jackets and tunic skirts.
The use of pattern (herringbone, hound’s-tooth, zigzag)and embellishment (paillettes, sequins, nailheads, grommets, embroidery and beading) on many pieces created snakeskin-like diamond designs
(The snake in the grass wasn’t the only critter to contend with in the collection either, some of the looks went full Cruella De Vil with skunk-stripe stoles, skunk coats, capes and cape suits.)
As the last model exits the runway and the music reaches an almost bone-crushing crescendo, and the little glass of vodka has worn off, it suddenly strikes one – like something out an Edgar Allan Poe tale -- why the blood-red walls of the Park Avenue Armory might have been made so narrow and claustrophobia-inducing on this particular night.
But by now it’s too late. You’ve become distracted by the shiny things, the severe beauty, and swallowed whole. You’re in the belly of the fashion serpent, where if Marc Jacobs has anything to do with it, you will remain until it’s time to shed your skin and do it all over again.