nyfw spring 2019

Marc Jacobs Keeps the Volume Turned Up

The designer commits to size, and convinces. Plus: Effortlessly modernized de la Renta and muddled Kors.

Photo: Imaxtree. Illustration: Lauren Tamaki
Photo: Imaxtree. Illustration: Lauren Tamaki

I was at Penn Station, boarding an Amtrak for Washington, when the Marc Jacobs show finally started, 90 minutes late. He’s been on time for years now, but this season, for whatever reason, he reverted to old habits, and Hurricane Florence meant I couldn’t wait.

On the way out of the Park Avenue Armory, I passed two young women dressed to the nines in Jacobs’s fall collection. You may remember it: the full-cut trousers with fattening pleats at the waist, the jumbo shoulders of swingy jackets and coats, the rich jewel tones that evoked Paris fashion in the ’80s, Yves et al. I described the collection, staged in low light and accessorized with outmoded brimmed hats with veils, as “a sumptuous funeral.” And I wondered, as did others, if Jacobs had lost his way or just his mind.

Apparently I was wrong, because the women on the steps of the Armory looked anything but mourners or freaks. They looked incredible in their trousers and spiffy blouses with a face-framing bow. They looked, really, in love with fashion.

And that’s how I felt this morning when I looked at images of the new spring collection, with a cup of coffee and my feet propped up on the desk, and no hurricane in sight. Over the past couple of months, in his advertising and Instagram account, Jacobs has deftly made a case for his big, chic volumes. So he was wise to stay with the look for spring, with the difference that the clothes are generally lighter, and occasionally scaled back a bit: The opening dress was a sliver of a slip in celery-colored silk, and there was a long, lean gray cardigan with shimmery slate-blue pants and a ruffle-collared blouse in a cellophanelike fabric.

But the main draw of the collection — well, there were several — was the sugary pastel palette mixed with neutrals like café au lait and taupe, the explosion of frills that seemed feminine and silly fun, and Jacobs’s take on the Chanel cardigan jacket, now a bit cropped and fuller in the cut.

Jacobs has always been obsessed with fashion history, but these last two collections may be his most unapologetic expression of that obsession. The young girls I saw dressed in his fall collection probably don’t get the references, but yet they looked fabulously modern — and different to everybody else on the street.

Kudos to Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia for bringing a younger verve to Oscar de la Renta without losing his signature style. Apart from an ivory blazer with a crocheted raffia skirt in a geometric pattern, they skipped the old routine of showing suits and coats-with-dresses. The opening look, on Bella Hadid, said it all: a one-shoulder blouse in white cotton voile with a printed and fringed sarong skirt and flat sandals.

There were gorgeous caftans in lightweight cottons and one in a bold forest green and white stripe in double-weight silk crepe. Although Garcia and Kim came up with a Silk Road theme — which covers dark hues, ikat patterns, tassels, well-handled embroideries — the clothes were hardly fantasies. They’d look good in a contemporary home, or at a summer party.

Retailers seem to love Kim’s own effortless style, the way she mixes textures and patterns, often with something simply tailored. And I think that comes through clearly in this relaxed, elegant collection. One of my favorite looks of the season, from any show, was a kimono-sleeve coat in off-white linen with modest black leaf embroidery, shown over black silk harem pants and a white silk handkerchief-hem blouse with slides.

It tugged at all the sophisticated Oscar story lines and at the same time looked cool and modern.

As a muggy New York Fashion Week came to an end yesterday, Michael Kors’s usual sunniness didn’t quite work its magic. Basically, his “global getaway” theme was too broad — one part Boca (hideously bright florals), one part Baja (hip surfer motifs and striped cashmere pullovers), one part Bali (fringe and an adorable blazer, shorts and bandeau in white cotton eyelet).

Missing on this journey, oddly, was a sense of Korsian direction.

Marc Jacobs Keeps the Volume Turned Up