Monday, February 11, 2008

Marc Jacobs: Waisted

First, the prologue.

On Wednesday, February 6, 2008, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (the heat) indicted James Jackson (the bad guy) on charges of extortion related to the use of the 69th Regiment Armory of which Jackson was the former superintendent. Jackson stands accused of 31 counts of soliciting bribes in the form of cash, a Bowflex, and other material goods in exchange for reserving Armory space.

Twenty-four of the 31 counts related to Marc Jacobs International and KCD, a public relations company used by Jacobs. Jacobs has been holding shows at the Armory for the past seven years.

In a swift maneuver that seemed straight out of the Hoover playbook, Jackson's indictment occurred in the middle New York Fashion Week. A coincidence, Cuomo said, that occurred due to expected judicial processing times.

While an international rug company refused to pay and reported the extortion to the police, Jacobs--via KCD--paid up.

Cuomo stated that the payment of bribes could itself be a criminal act. The question of whether Jacobs has broken the law depends on unspecified circumstances still to be determined and investigated.

The show must go on, but before it did, the media indulged in some creative lead-in license:

The Daily Telegraph, Australia bookended its lead with sexual preference and scandal:

GAY fashion designer Marc Jacobs is in hot water again as justice officials investigate bribery allegations, days after reports emerged of his bizarre love triangle.

BBC News fiddled with semantics, making Jacobs the instigator:

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs' company is under investigation for allegedly bribing an official to host shows at an historic New York building.

The first act:

Imagine an Off-Off-Broadway show--let's say one of those 1960s French avant-garde pieces that no one understands but whose patrons come away feeling intellectually superior to the rest of us dolts--in which the director rushes from backstage to insist that the audience be seated before the show can begin. Or perhaps it's not French at all but just a friendly little comedy by Tom Stoppard. The kind of play that has a partially removed fourth wall and a bit more expectation in terms of audience response. The audience may or may not be asked to dance in the aisles, throw popcorn, or blow raspberries. Or they may just be admonished to sit the hell down.

The audience in these dramas becomes a cast of extras, or, in the case of the Jacobs show, a sort of humiliated Greek chorus whose only permissible vocal response would be a sigh of delight. Not too loud, though, because the orchestra has started, and it is none other than Sonic Youth, that band of undead, downtown alt-rockers who manage to keep their act hip even though Kim Gordon is nearing 60.

Outside, bouncers bar ingenue stylist Rachel Zoe from entering, which leads to a high-pitched, Acting 101 tantrum. Ms. Zoe was tardy, a social gaffe that might be defensible considering that Mr. Jacobs started his Spring 2008 show two hours late.

Post-show, Jacobs pacified Ms. Zoe, who was wearing the eye makeup of a community theater Gorgon.

This was the second time Jacobs has appeared at the start of a show. The last time was spring's backwards collection, but there he was only doing his victory lap before starting the show with look #56.

The second act:

Jacobs enjoys the thrust of social immediacy in ways usually reserved for rock stars and other blighted luminaries. He's been sober, he's relapsed, he's had something sucked out of his jowls. His last collection featured that shoe. Now, headed into the soberness of what looks to be a fairly depressing fall, he sent out a parade of proportions that for the most part did not display to best advantage on those models who appear to have taken a pre-show swig from the bottle labeled "Drink Me."

The designer admitted that he was "not inspired." It wasn't clear if he meant inspired enough to thematically follow through on an ad hoc tricorn hat that he claimed referenced Paul Revere, or whether he meant that he was not inspired in general.

Coats in colors of pavement and sky fared best, as plush countermeasures to fall's bony grip. Unexceptional sweaters and pants that grappled with hipbones detracted from some probably outdated idea of fashion as physical enrichment. The focus was on movable or non-existent waist, an idea Jacobs continued from the spring collection. Often, Jacobs dropped waists until proportion turned into distortion. Due to the large number of disproportionate midsections, the most gracile looks had no waists at all.

The third act:

This wasn't the collection to make anyone drop trou, even if it appeared that some of the models might. But Jacobs designs for urban environments like Manhattan where in many instances what is needed is not art but stealth, and this collection is just the bland urban camo you'd want for sneaking past enemy lines.



susie_bubble said...

Loose and shapeless can be done right.... this didn't work out alas....

riz said...

WTF was this?? Controversy aside, I just couldn't believe my eyes when I first viewed the show. Am I an imbecile, or is this glibness masking depression?

I don't have anything critical or intelligent to say at the moment, i just feel so betrayed. such a let-down. sorry.

Suzanna Mars said...

I liked the winter coats, although they may as well have come from Jones New York and not Jacobs. I looked at them mainly for function and also for the texture of the cloth. Which is something you look for in Macy's, not in Fashion Week.

The larger cut to the coats is something one saw a lot of in the '80s, with the appropriation of menswear into women's clothing.

I don't think it's fair for me to make any kind of psychological assessment of Jacobs, but this collection really did smack of effort. Effort in the sense of fighting a lack of inspiration and not being able to rise above it. Dulled is the word I want. From someone who is not seeing the world in the same way he did previously.

Riz! Over to you!

Thomas said...

Gay fashion designer - as if, in some strange world, there is someone who knows of Marc Jacobs but doesn't know he's gay.

Still haven't looked at any of the New York shows. I think I'll wait till their done.

Anonymous said...

i awfully loved the collection. i think the time has come when i start realizing (and accepting) the World of Marc Jacobs, something too vulgar to be art, something too art to be perfect.
this was a relaxed collection that my eye enjoyed. though i don't want to speak about the waist and hems, what really got me inspired is the jewelry. the wicked, kind of recycled, oversized, overexposed, that ultra-non-chic pieces of silver and plastic (glass?) were totally amazing. such a symbolic look - trashy luxury a la 'Bauhaus got Missoni wrong'. i can't help but stop praying those uber-fancy shackles.
who else but Marc will show us how ridiculous we all are? such a tribute to tasteless and spoiled us.

iñaki said...

I hate the fact that everything's reduced to the personal lives of indivuals that are only supposed to wave at one end of the runway.
Fashion is fashion, and we all should only care for that. Let Jacobs' deal with his lack of judgement.


PS. I love this blog and you're writing. It's so inspiring.

Suzanna Mars said...

DPB, did you see that Jacobs special on Sundance? So much work goes into those adornments and as you say they end up looking like ravaged luxury.

inaki, that was the whole point. There was much mock-scandalized media coverage last week that went into the finer points of this designer's recent Sturm und Drang.

Suzanna Mars said...

Also, note the gender division of the responses (Riz, this is your playing field! See if you can find supporting documentation in your travels). Susie, Riz, and I had similar lack of enthusiasm and then the men reacted positively.

Imelda Matt said...

Marc Jacobs wedged two things in my craw - opening the show with a slouch boot (WTF is A/W 05) and open toe sandals with flesh coloured hosiery!!!!

I couldn’t look past these inexcusable gaffs and after reading your très amusant post I think it’s best left that way.

Suzanna Mars said...

IMELDA, I always defer to you in matters of shoes.

This all had to do with the '80s, Olivia Newton-John "Let's Get Physical," slumpy garments that made even the large of shoulder look terminally defeated, and his refutation of sexiness transmitted through apparel.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I'm open to challenging, even unflattering shapes but whatever's up with Marc? It all just felt so...drab. Like he rolled over and gave in at some point to his lack of inspiration. Meh, I say...though the hats were lovely.

enc said...

I've always admired the MJ aesthetic . . . on someone else.

It's not for me, especially this season. It is quite dulled, as you say. Dulled says it all.

riz said...

I did the best I could with MJ. I'm over it, there's such a tendency to dote on him, and apologize for him every season. (I'm not saying I'm exempt...)

Thomas said...

I guess I didn't leave a reaction, but I can't say, on a cursory glance, that I feel positive about it. Definitely not to his standards.