Going to New York Fashion Week can make you feel a lot of things, but loneliness — the existential; all-alone-on-the-planet kind — is not usually one of them. Yet, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, designer and master showman Marc Jacobs managed to conjure up a palpable sense of loneliness — and wistfulness, and melancholy and even a little bit of nostalgia — that peculiar subset of emotions that key into what once was but no longer is.
Jacobs’ traditional fashion-week-closing show took place, as it always does, in the cavernous Park Avenue Armory. This time, though, the drastically pared-back number of guests occupied only a postage-stamp-sized space, the rest of the interior disappearing into the inky darkness, with the show’s musical accompaniment (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble performing Bryce Dessner’s “Aheym”) positioned off in the distance. The feeling of loneliness was furthered by the way the show was lit — with a spotlight that focused tightly on each look as it came down the runway, and, thanks to a mirror-like coating on the floor cast the silhouette of each model up toward the ceiling of the Armory, where they fluttered like shadow angels.
“It’s a fallen angel kind of beauty,” read Jacobs’ sparse show notes, “but still an angel.”
With an emphasis on the trapeze silhouette (all the better to evoke the idea of folded-back angel wings, right?) the collection’s standout pieces occupied the opposite ends of the wardrobe spectrum: the heavy and the light.
In the first camp were capes (a leopard-print number memorably opened the show), double-breasted cape coats as triangular as traffic cones, in navy blue or gray windowpane checks, and belted A-line coats in coral red and mint green (both so ’50s retro-looking they could easily make a “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” cameo without looking out of place).
In the second category were airy dresses, pale green slip dresses, tiered floral-festooned frocks and a lot of feathered pieces: off-the-shoulder ankle-length gowns in oily blue, inky black or dove gray, and our hands-down favorite, a babydoll dress composed entirely of sky blue feathers.
Accessorizing many of the looks were hats by Stephen Jones Millinery that managed to perfectly mirror the contrasting elements of the collection — sparkly rib-knit caps adorned with feathers, sometimes a single one sprouting skyward and sometimes a flock of them lying back against the head.
From start to finish, Jacobs’ fallen-angel-focused fall and winter 2019 collection was a thing of great — if loneliness-inducing — beauty. And for that, he definitely gets a fashion-week feather in his cap.
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