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Marc Jacobs dismisses street-style at New York fashion week

This New York fashion week has been characterised by near-identical looks on the catwalk and front row: polo necks, a 1970s skirt or trouser shape and long lean layering in muted colours: the synergy between haute street-style and next season’s designer looks has never been stronger.

Aya Jones on the Marc Jacobs catwalk.
Photograph: Startraks Photo/Rex

Naturally, Marc Jacobs, whose show closed the week, did the exact opposite. “What I see in the street now doesn’t interest me,” he told reporters backstage after the show at the Park Avenue Armory, dressed as for an uptown dinner in a black suit and white shirt. “I am so tired of street-style looks.”

Instead, his muse for the season was the late, legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Huge canvasses painted with swagged curtains, grand fireplaces and urns of flowers transformed the catwalk set into Vreeland’s apartment.

“She was passionate in her tastes, but never afraid to totally change her mind,” said Jacobs. “And that is what fashion is about. You absolutely have to have it – right up till the day you can’t stand the sight of it anymore.”

A model on the Marc Jacobs catwalk.
Photograph: Pixelformula/Sipa/Rex

The British model Erin O’Connor opened the show. “I saw a photo of Erin in X-Ray [a Francois Nars photography book] and there was something about her profile – the way it looks kind of important – that felt right for this show,” said Jacobs. The models wore severe, dark, matte lipstick, their hair in top knots. There was an echo, in spirit, of the Geisha-esque severity of Vreeland’s own look.

But no single reference ever ruled a Marc Jacobs catwalk, and the clothes themselves were too eclectic to pin on any one muse or era. Charcoal wool shift dresses came with thick bands of jet bugle-beading, bound around the hips, shiny as gaffer tape. Cruella de Vil domino furs had the prettiest of flowers embroidered into silk linings. Sumptuous skirts, richly beaded, fell to the floor in knife sharp pleats.

This was a collection for character actresses, not starlets: a note of individuality in an industry where youthfulness is next to godliness. But there was box office appeal, still: a wool coat whose hem had been dipped into glittering jet embroidery was the very height of chic. Vreeland herself would surely have approved.

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