NEW YORK – It’s not every designer who can pull off framing a fashion show around a quote from Nietzsche. But Marc Jacobs has always had an outsized flair for drama.
“We have art in order not to die of the truth,” the German philosopher once said, a line that Jacobs chose to highlight in his program notes for Monday evening's runway show in the grand entrance hall of the New York Public Library on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.
In case there was any doubt that Jacobs was referring to turbulent developments in the outside world, he also spoke of making and sharing his creative choices “in contrast to the ongoing brutality and ugliness of a world beyond our insulated but not impermeable walls.”
Jacobs' show in the marbled lobby of the famous library came exactly a year after his previous show in the same venue. That show, also held in summer and not during Fashion Week, was the first in-person runway show since the pandemic had shut things down for a couple of seasons, and was meant to send an emphatic message that New York City was back. It would have been hard back then to imagine that a year later, the pandemic would by no means be over.
But New York hums along nonetheless, and so did Jacobs’ runway. Like last year, there was a futuristic feel to his designs, with outsized proportions, shiny materials, whimsical shapes and lots of color.
Models in white platform boots sported shiny looks like a glistening dress in cobalt blue with a matching kerchief tied at the neck. This and other ensembles came with long, elbow-length gloves. Intriguingly, there were some high-end surgical scrubs, like a lavender ensemble with drawstring pants and those long gloves, apparently ready for the operating room.
Sweaters in bright blues or pinks were huge and bulky, with giant sleeves slung around the waist or over the shoulders, voluminous enough to hide another human. The billowing garments soon gave way to more skin-baring ensembles like a long pink skirt with a tiny, sequined bikini top.
One striking look was a metallic tunic that resembled chainmail, paired with elbow-length black gloves and a kerchief in the same material. Then came the fancier stuff: long skirts in green or purple with shiny oversized puff sleeves, and a dramatic, billowing gown in neon green.
Jacobs was clearly having fun with both materials and shapes, and indeed he listed them in his show notes. Next to a column titled “Humans” (that would be the models, a list that included the Hadid sisters, Bella and Gigi) he revealed his materials — canvas, denim, foil, glass, leather, paint, paper, plaster (!), plastic, rubber and vinyl. Shapes included bikinis, blazers, cardigans, cargo pants — and scrubs, among other things.
The overarching theme seemed to be expressed in the show’s title: “Choice,” and even more so, creativity. “My sentiment is unwavering,” the designer wrote. “Creativity is essential to living.”