Marc Jacobs Loves New York Without Nostalgia

The Marc Jacobs show was a wonderfully evocative scene. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Marc Jacobs Loves New York Without Nostalgia
A show full of optimism and humor at the Ziegfeld.

The show was called “One Night Only,” and there was a Playbill and popcorn and even an orchestra. Once the 400 guests for Marc Jacobs’s spring 2016 collection had taken their seats in the Ziegfeld Theater, the first things they saw on the big screen were models walking along a spectator-lined red carpet on the sidewalk and pausing for a photo op. The familiar star moment drew a big laugh.

Within minutes the first models, dressed in red, white, and blue, were walking down aisles set up as catwalks, while their sisters (some 60 of them) continued to pour out of a dressing-room tent on West 54th Street, down the carpet, and into the Ziegfeld. The real and the illusory were colliding. Then the orchestra, led by Brian Newman on the trumpet, kicked in. A moment later, the aisles were flooded with girls.

Marc Jacobs’s “One Night Only” collection conveyed — with joy as much as irony — our fascination with celebrity. Photo: Imaxtree

So Marc Jacobs really does wear his heart on his sleeve. It was a wonderfully evocative scene, on many levels at once — a rarity for a fashion show. It touched on Jacobs’s feeling for New York City; many of his shows over the past 25 years have in some way been about New York. A good portion of the audiences for his shows is made up, by design, of young people; and last night the space along the red carpet was open to the public. But “One Night Only” also conveyed — with joy as much as irony — our fascination with celebrity. Whether in spangles or a drum majorette’s jacket, all of the models were dressed for their star turn. At the same time, their wilted, barrette-pinned hair and dark-circled eyes suggested they had been out all night, partying.

Then, too, having spent a lot of time in the past week crossing Times Square, with its painted ladies and tourists, I thought the clothes joyfully captured how lots of ordinary people dress — the crazy mixes of sequins and frayed denim, the jarring renditions of the American flag or school-spirit sweaters, the vulgar mixed with the sweet and naïve. Embedded in the collection were also references to the movies: bleached and photo-printed jeans and skirts with a famous image of audiences watching an early 3-D flick.

Jacobs didn’t want anything to be literal; he is a genius at covering up his tracks. Those prints of the 3-D moviegoers look almost like clouds, or at least like a sun-damaged photo. Afterward, as Jacobs greeted guests, including the performers Sandra Bernhard and Bette Midler, he mentioned a documentary that Midler had made in which she said that many of the places she once knew in the city are now gone — replaced by skyscrapers or boutiques and such. You can be sentimental about that, Jacobs said, or you can move on, but those places “inform who you are today.” That sense came across powerfully in Jacobs’s show — without a drop of nostalgia. The driving jazz notes of the orchestra — which broke into a rendition of the Beastie Boys’ "Sabotage" at one point — and the optimism and humor of the clothes drove us forward, not back.

By the way, Jacobs had initially thought to do a collection around American pride, he told me, motivated in part by the Supreme Court’s marital-equality ruling. But when the Lexington Avenue Armory became unavailable, and the Ziegfeld was offered instead, he broadened his idea. The show included both high-end clothing and moderate-priced things, of the type he had in his recently dissolved Marc by Marc Jacobs line. “It was all high and low,” he said. “Everything mixed together.”

In a somewhat-somber collection, Francisco Costa revisited Calvin Klein’s iconic, bias-cut slip dresses from the mid-’90s. Photo: Imaxtree

All in all, it was a great New York fashion season, capped by Jacobs’s show and also on Thursday, by a jaunty Ralph Lauren collection and a somewhat-somber turn by Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein. Costa called his collection, aptly, “The Morning After,” and he revisited Klein’s iconic, bias-cut slip dresses from the mid-'90s, now in glossy, rich fabrics with long, dangling straps. Although the show felt a bit repetitive, with too many trench-coat-covered dresses and deconstructed jackets, it was a nice salute to Klein’s modernism.

Ralph Lauren’s collection evoked French glamour — naturally, with an American-sportswear twist. Photo: Imaxtree

Lauren, that most American of designers, decided to sail across the pond this season and evoke French glamour — naturally, with an American-sportswear twist. That meant pegged pants in linen shantung with broadcloth shirts or a navy wool blazer; full-skirted cotton dresses in French blue stripes, some fabulous mechanic jumpsuits (including one in shimmering black), and lots of big, cork-soled platforms and rakish sailor caps. Straw totes came embroidered with “Ralph,” and when the man himself stepped out for his bow, in a blazer and blue jeans, it was — but of course! — to Frank Sinatra’s “I Love Paris.”