If you happened to walk past the New York State Armory at about 8:30 last night you'd be forgiven for thinking a Broadway musical had spilled onto the street. There may have been some high kicks, there definitely were some jazz hands and there undoubtedly was some singing and said singing went like this; 'Who will buy this wonderful feeling, na na naaaa na na na na naaaaa…'
The director and star of the show, the Wizard of this particular Oz, was of course Marc Jacobs. Who else on this Autumn/Winter 2012 New York fashion week schedule could remind a rather tired by this point audience what fashion is all about? Magic and magical it was. The set, designed by Jacobs' close friend and muse, the artist Rachel Feinstein, was simply spectacular. A pop-up card of a white fairytale scene, there were archways and castle turrets, a twisted tree and a fountain by the front. As the clock ticked 8 the lights went down, the music began (Lionel Bart's 'Who Will Buy' from Oliver) and out walked some funny creatures that were certainly up to no good.
A third into a procession of giant squashed hats, feathery and furry, a peculiar sartorial menagerie and Prince Charming giant-buckled shoes I glanced down at my notebook and realised I'd made no notes. Describing the clothes, each look, seemed beside the point of it all. Yes, there were Princess coats and waffle knit stoles secured with a - what else? - giant safety pin, and dresses from swirly lurex paisley and tinsel and appliqué skirts with billowy sequinned tops and black silk satin trousers cropped to the ankle with sparkly little socks and those sequin buckles on the shoes. And yes, each look was generally pieced together in three: a short jacket or mid-length coat over a tunic or dress over the slim trousers. But there was more. Showmanship and creativity, intelligence and fun.
Was Jacobs showing us how stuck we tend to get with looking one way or another? Or was he hinting at what he may have artfully dodged lately? A big 'serious' job, perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, he was answering a rather important question. How do you solve a problem like stale fashion? With a song and a dance and by putting on a show. 'Who will buy?' Why, every street urchin around, Marc.