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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marc Jacobs show - Fashion Review

Fashion Review - American Style, Way Up High.

Marc Jacobs show
Thirty minutes before the start of the Marc Jacobs show, the models were lined up and waiting. Mr. Jacobs, in a formal mood, was wearing a three-piece suit but had removed the jacket.

Out front, where the floor and specially built walls were covered with brown cardboard, giving the aura of a giant box, guests milled around. The photographers, without celebrities to snap (none had been invited) were like chickens idly pecking around a barnyard.

And so all was calm at Marc Jacobs, in contrast to previous seasons when the scene was part of the fun, crushing or not. Then, too, Mr. Jacobs was interested in conceptual collections, involving a set, and afterward journalists would troop backstage to unearth the meaning.

On Monday night, though, the music was a remix of “Over the Rainbow,” from “The Wizard of Oz.” That’s only worth mentioning because a number of puff-sleeve dresses, and the low-heeled pumps with anklets, pointed to Dorothy. The rest of the show needed no explanation.

“Did you like it?” Mr. Jacobs asked guests backstage. “It’s beautiful, right?”

Yes, Mr. Jacobs, it was beautiful.

Part of the tug of “Over the Rainbow” is that it’s an American ballad, written by E. Y. Harburg, known as Yip, and that seemed to be Mr. Jacobs’s idea — to create a buoyant American collection.

His timing couldn’t be better. American style is the subject of this year’s major costume exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, opening in May. And by banishing celebrities from his front row, at least for now, Mr. Jacobs has pointedly returned the focus to the clothes. That has been a complaint about American fashion — that it has been sidetracked into celebrity, parties and co-branding deals. What about its great tradition of innovative design?

If the spirit of American fashion is modernism, Mr. Jacobs seemed to approach that ideal in at least two ways — through a neutral palette, with flashes of bitter yellow, that evoke modern interiors free of Old World clutter, and in the modest, relaxed line of the clothes.

The majority of the skirts and coats, in wools and double-faced cashmere, were A-line and hemmed below the knee. A sleeveless taupe blouse with a streaming sailor tie appeared with a wool kilt in a slightly warmer tone, the wool cut in window slats and inset with chiffon. By raising the center of a peacoat and pinching the back, he gave the classic shape a new, flattering silhouette.

Probably he has shown pantsuits before, but two in putty gray looked just right. The collection was loaded with fur, piled at wrist and neck and sometimes treated as a top, but it also appeared in a checked pattern for a plain shell and rounded skirt. You’d think it was tweed.

A trip to a Texas border town, seeing factory employees walk to work half asleep, gave Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte the concept of a young woman dressing herself in the dark, using short and long lengths of fabric, washed-out florals and highly textured knits that also looked haphazard.

Yet, while some of the constructions were beautiful, the concept rapidly wore thin, and perhaps it was not developed enough.

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