There are a few consistent factors about Marc Jacobs' biannual show: It always closes out New York Fashion Week. It (almost) always takes place at the Park Avenue Armory. It always starts right on time. And as soon as editors take their seats, no one really knows what's about to go down. The ensuing catwalk action might not always be well-received, but it reliably gets people talking. On paper, fall '17 was seemingly set up for spectacle: Per the show notes, the collection was inspired by the Netflix documentary series, Hip-Hop Evolution, and Jacobs' own upbringing in New York. ("This collection is my representation of the well-studied dressing up of casual sportswear," the notes read.) But the execution wasn't the elaborate production one might've expected.
First up, there was no intricate set — instead, two rows of seats faced each other, a few feet apart, running the length of the Park Avenue Armory. Editors were instructed to put away their phones, as the show would be a social media-free zone. (Can you just hear communal gasps from the fashion flock?) There was no audio involved, either: The models strutted out, with the sound of their own platform boots clicking against the wooden floor providing the show's soundtrack. (And the running commentary of those invited.)
There was little to distract from the fur-lined coats, the collared knits, and the minidresses being shown, all if which nodded to '80s and '90s streetwear culture. It was an unorthodox presentation, sure — unexpectedly (and literally) quiet. But attendees came to pretty much the same conclusion: The tables had been turned, and it was, perhaps, just what New York Fashion Week needed.
Jacobs offered an antidote to all the hoopla that too often defines NYFW (and Fashion Month in general): the noise, the embellishment, the exaggerated showmanship. By stripping his presentation of all of those pretenses, Jacobs' designs could be appreciated. Everyone had a front-row seat (something Jacobs has done before), arranged in a way that put the audience in close proximity to the models as they walked straight out of the Armory and out into the actual street — a sort of full-circle journey from Jacobs' inspiration board to the real world, where the garments are eventually meant to end up.
The finale wasn't merely symbolic of the collection — it was also Jacobs' last jab at typical Fashion Week behavior. As editors were fishing their phones out of their bags, they were greeted by the fall '17 lineup, sitting back in fold-out chairs outside of the venue, snapping pictures of the editors. This cheeky take on art imitating life led to some very meta (and self-aware) content.
Well-played, Marc, well-played.