Marc Jacobs starts on time, very on time. In February, Cardi B held things up for mere seconds and it felt scandalous, as she made her way, glacially slowly as watches were tapped, to her front-row seat.
On Wednesday night, at the Park Avenue Armory, the show started 1 hour and 26 minutes late. Most people stayed, some people left, including one person who said she had a plane to catch to London. Fashion, darling.
Before arrival, guests had been warned of a half-hour delay, and so turned up at 6.30pm. And then time stretched ever further.
The celebrities there—Nicki Minaj and Emily Ratajkowski among them—stayed true to Jacobs, though one felt sorry for the person next to Minaj, whose fabulous dress needed multiple seats to itself and whose contretemps with Cardi B constituted one of Fashion Week’s most extreme storylines.
At 1 hour and 24 minutes, Anna Wintour, the most powerful person in fashion and who is obviously much busier than anyone else and certainly more important, was seen being guided back to her seat by security.
“I can see my seat, it’s just through there,” she said. If she was making a break for the border, it had been scotched by the chic men in black suits.
As yet it is a mystery why this epic lateness occurred.
Most likely, it was something with the outfits, which turned out to be madly elaborate and beautiful. A stitch coming loose in any of these amazing constructions would have made for a last-minute sewing nightmare. Maybe multiple ones came apart at the delicate seams. Show officials paced the runway silently, but not frantically, for nearly an hour and a half. (The Daily Beast reached out to a Marc Jacobs representative for comment and will update this article if it is forthcoming.)
It may, as some online fashion wags have posited, been a power play. Traditionally, Jacobs has the last show slot at Fashion Week. The prompt start time is a brief corrective to the shows that start 20 minutes after their advertised start times.
But on Wednesday night Jacobs was not closing out New York Fashion Week. He has big-name competition in Rihanna, whose Fenty show in Brooklyn was due to start at 7.30 p.m. Was he trying to steal her thunder? Some guests left to attend her show. It wasn’t a mass exodus, but it was noticeable.
Are Jacobs and Rihanna the Bethenny and Carole of The Real Fashion Designers of New York?
Theirs are actually not the latest shows on Wednesday night; the label truly closing out NYFW is Barragán (a Daily Beast favorite), which started at 8 p.m.
The irony of the drama? The outfits were a dream, a crazed fever dream, but beautiful and inventive. If you waited it out, you were rewarded: It was Valley of the Dolls meets London’s Blitz club of the 1980s where dressing up was deadly serious play.
If you liked Bubble's demented costuming in Absolutely Fabulous, then this was the show for you: materials, shapes, drapes, and contours in clashing, mad-science symphony: fashion as performance art.
There were ruffles, and ruffles within ruffles in frocks that were less frocks than constructions. At the start, you saw the most giant versions on lapels of those Carrie Bradshaw oversized silk flowers that started turning up on every outfit in Season 3 of Sex and the City. The explosion of pastels was as if Barbara Cartland’s wardrobe had been raided, and elaborated upon, with glittering sheen and pinking shears.
Soon we were into shiny pink dresses with whole necks and arms buried under ruffles, like a firework had been placed in a nest of meringues.
A vibrant yellow mackintosh with latex headscarf reminded me of Princess Margaret taking a colorful walk in some ’60s rain.
Even fitted evening dresses, like a pink and orange-studded number, came with feathers flying from a cascading structural waterfall on the top half and around the hips. A coat dress in blue was a puffball of fabric and feathers; the pants stayed high-waisted while the oversize rosettes (sometimes attached to the waist) and whirls become more enveloping and outrageous.
A 1980s harlequin appeared with a tuxedo jacket and trousers in partitioned blue, yellow, and light orange, with black lapels. Further examples of brightly colored masculine tailoring came with shoulder pads, and delightful compact boaters, with dainty sprigs of netting, by Stephen Jones.
One of the most beautiful looks came in a soft yellow: whirl upon whirl of the material made up the bodice, with a slinky, shiny dress below.
At the end, Jacobs, in black and white spotted shirt, took a brief bow and, at just after 7.30 p.m., six minutes after the show began, it ended—an hour and a half after it should have. But, so what? Fashion Week had come to a suitably dramatic end, especially for all those hailing cabs and Ubers for the ride down to Brooklyn next for Rihanna.
As one woman said on her way out, “Wow, OK, after all that waiting that was worth it.” And it absolutely, fabulously, was.