Marc Jacobs' show has been classified as everything; from social barometer, to prime paparazzi photo-op, to simple preamble before one hell of an afterparty. The one thing they haven't been classified as is plain old fashion show. For Autumn/Winter 2010, Jacobs stripped away all distractions - no set, no big-name models and no celebrities at the side of the runway. Instead, he wound his front row up and down no less than seven times and wrapped his venue in brown packing-paper - perching his audience within arm's reach, and setting his wares against the proverbial blank canvas. This show was all about the clothes.
Perhaps Jacobs was feeling especially confident about the designs - and well he might, because they were some of his finest. When Jacobs and his business partner Robert Duffy tore away the packaging to the strains of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', the collection was revealed in its entirety - fifty-something models stood within a steel structure, dressed in a honey-glazed melange of classic Jacobs, colours hovering about a dreamy palette of subtle blonde, gold and cream darkening through to charcoal, navy and the tiniest hint of black. A dreamlike vision, indeed; and while other designers are tackling a contemporary instinct for survival (check those high-tech protective sports details and armour-like layers of knit, shearling and topstitched leather), Jacobs produced a collection of filmy, drifty chiffon evening frocks, frothy mongolian lamb tippets and strict-but-sweet A-line suiting.
This could be seen as something of a riposte to fashion's current feeling, perhaps - but Jacobs is in a unique and enviable position of being able to lead the march to the beat of his own drum. Thus, it seems, this collection wasn't really about anything at all. It certainly wasn't about an era - there were shades of the thirties, forties and seventies in WASP-y dirndl skirts and suit jackets, narrow draped chiffon evening dresses and wide-legged trousersuits with raised waists and firm shoulders, but they were as subtle and indistinct as the buttermilk and smoke palette. Likewise, while there were shades of Madeline Vionnet in puff-sleeved, sinuously bias-cut velvet, chiffon and silk gowns (toss an aran sweater or back-button cardigan over them and you have a new and fresh way to dress for evening) it wasn't a rehash of any one designer. It certainly wasn't about anything as crass as hitting trends: although everything somehow resonated with the audience as perfectly suited for the here-and-now, from chunky mongolian-lamb trimmed jackets and sweaters, to ostrich shoes, to fur-wrapped handbags. Details stood out - the mismatching diamante-studded buttons threaded through jackets, say, or the sweater wrapped around the body rather than worn over it, arms safety-pinned in the small of the back.
It was easy to collapse into reverie, bordering on beatific serenity - even the audacious closing gowns of faded, sunflower-strewn ruched taffeta (a witty Jacobs joke) looked weirdly beautiful, or maybe beautifully weird. Nevertheless, despite the dreamlike mood, what this show was about was very real, eminently wearable clothing - incredibly simple, incredibly luxurious and insanely covetable.