There are a few things that Marc Jacobs’ closing show of New York Fashion Week does to the letter. The first is that, to a fault, it starts bang on time. On Wednesday, Cardi B, a late entrant to the Park Avenue Armory, held him up by a few seconds making her way to her front row seat glacially slowly. So now we know who Marc Jacobs will wait for.
The other inevitability is that there is controversy. Jacobs’ use of wool dreadlocks on models in September 2016 set off an internet firestorm around cultural appropriation.
And today, the sound of shouting as you approached the Armory, using the Lexington Avenue entrance rather than Park Avenue as usual, alerted you that February 2018 Fashion Week was about to end with yet more drama.
“Marc Jacobs, shame on you,” the chorus of anti-animal cruelty protesters were shouting. “Only assholes wear fur!” A PETA-branded placard read: “Wear your own skin.”
The show, inside the Armory, featured seats more akin, as my neighbor put it, to “art class.” These hard-bottomed classroom-like chairs formed a two-tier passageway running the building. The clothes were Jacobs at his most theatrical. Would you wear this mash-up of Dick Tracy (the Madonna and Warren Beatty Dick Tracy), massive-shouldered, boldly-colored, continent-spanning lapelled-jackets?
Done in all-black, the models looked like stern, furtive cardinals, off to plot the deposing of a Pope, or scurrying home to see a twink lover. Jacobs summarized the show in notes provided to attendees as "huge flourishes, gestures, broad strokes and silhouettes expressed in rich and gorgeous fabrics..."
If the jackets were huge, the trousers were leather and wide. And everywhere on waists there were gigantic flower pins, last seen on Carrie Bradshaw’s dresses in Sex and The City and here reimagined as the crowning glory of a belt.
It was fashion at its most theatrical and bonkers, and most effectively realized as such by some harlequin-themed variants. There were some sleeker, two toned dresses, the color boundary a sheer diagonal from one side of the waist to the opposite shoulder. One model forwent trousers for tights, and at the end there were some dresses with a flowery explosion of ruffles down the side.
Outside, the anti-cruelty protest was in full swing. Roberto Bonelli, a protester, told the Daily Beast, that they hoped to effect the same kind of change as they had by protesting Michael Kors, who has committed to being fur-free by December 2018.
The protesters were focused on Canada Goose, Moncler, and others who use fur-trim on garments, “and think they can get away with it.”
Bonelli said the high-profile protests of activists in the 80s and 90s—which saw red paint and dye being thrown on garments and wearers—had been effective, and had created change. In recent years fur had been making a quiet comeback. Activists were now re-energized to fight its use once more.
Leo Nardo, one of the organizers of the protest, said letters had been sent to Marc Jacobs, and that company representatives had responded using “using buzzwords and that they respected their opinion.”
“It’s not good enough,” Nardo said. “We want him to stop using fur. We are here to stand up for the animals who cannot stand up for themselves. He should know that we will continue to protest him as long as he uses fur.”
The Daily Beast asked a Marc Jacobs representative how the designer felt about the demonstration, and whether it would change his mind on using fur. No response was immediately forthcoming. We will update the story if a response is provided.
As one set of protesters came wheeling directly into exiting fashionistas, shouting slogans, a show attendee said to her companion in a quietly horrified voice: “They're so mean. Do they think they’re going to change anyone’s mind behaving like this?”
Fashion, tone-deaf? Never. TIM TEEMAN
On a day ruled by ostentatious displays of romance, LaQuan Smith offered an alternative—a master class on the art of flirting. At turns sultry and playful with punctuations of luxury, aesthetics for which his eponymous brand have become known, Smith drew heavily on jewel tones across an array of separates and dresses.
The clothes lacked a little variety in terms of silhouettes. Shorter pieces came with lots of ruching, and almost full-length dresses had splits and were off the shoulder.
The pièce de résistance arrived halfway through the show with a long-sleeved jumpsuit flanked by a delicious, fiery-red fur coat with an oversized hood that initially shrouded the model’s face. This was a woman in control, a woman who would be seen on her terms, and woman you would not forget. TAMARA BEST
The end of Fashion Week brought, via Leanne Marshall, a delightful pageant of flowing chiffon, wavy scallops and ruffles, and skirts that fluttered in the breeze of the catwalk, Marshall’s designs were pretty without being precious, and right on point for her Valentine’s Day time slot.
Upscale bohemian dresses offered wearable looks that incorporated interesting detailing, like an ivory blouse with scalloped sleeves and a navy a crop top with wavy cutouts. Her gowns were all dreamy layers of lace and chiffon and beading, with a plunging neckline here, an artful ruffle there, and even a full ballroom skirt of silk organza.
These loose and flowy elements were paired nicely with more structured architectural detailing to give the collection a stylishly delicate feel without veering too far into the frilly and fussy.
This effect was helped in large part by Marshall’s color choices. She relied on blocks of color with interesting pairings that were surprising and charming. Navy bodices sat atop cyan skirts, a double-sleeved ivory blouse showed peeps of navy, and sunshine-y citron gowns gave fall a pop of brightness. Dusty rose and bright bronze rounded out the collection that was delightfully colorful.
The peony in Marshall’s flower crown, so to speak, was her casting, which included several plus-size models, adding both a refreshing dose of diversity to Fashion Week and proving that Marshall’s designs are made for real women who live their lives off the runway. ALLISON MCNEARNEY