Rather than an actual piece of clothing, this is a doodle of a hat, a caricature almost - we've had conceptual art, this is conceptual millinery.
Marc Jacobs is a master of the seasonal turnaround. His spring 2011 collection may have been pastel-hued and seventies-saturated, but that's no reason Autumn/Winter can't evoke the suck-in jut-out shapes of the fifties, albeit with a hint of kink. 'Couture Fetish Robot' was a fitting summary for this Jacobs show, although the darkness of those themes were somewhat undermined by the overriding decorative motif: the polka-dot.
Innocent, even simplistic, the polka-dot was Jacobs' obsession for Autumn/Winter. Flecking its way across suiting, sweaters and skirts, pock-marking hosiery and, in this instance, even leaping from the fabric into three-dimensions, an oversized mink pom-pom forming a surreal dot atop the model's head, mounted on a leather band invisible beneath the hair.
Marc Jacobs' love of contemporary art is well-known. It most often comes to the fore in his Louis Vuitton collections, recruiting artists like Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and Stephen Sprouse to play down and scrawl over the Vuitton monogram, reinventing it for a new generation. For his own label one was reminded of Yayoi Kusama's work, spotted with millions of dots to reflect her self-declared obsession with repetition, pattern and order. Kusama says that her polka-dot represents 'the sun'. Maybe that's why Jacobs chose to ricochet it across the surface of a winter collection, a single spot soaring into orbit.
Stephen Jones, Marc Jacob's milliner of choice, has often said that his hats are the 'punctuation' for a designers collection. In this case, the powdery mink pom-pom seems literally to dot the 'i' of Jacobs slender silhouette. There's a touch of absurdity to it too, absurdity in the luxury of a pom-pom rendered in knuckle-deep fur, absurdity in the idea of this as a hat. Rather than an actual piece of clothing, this is a doodle of a hat, a caricature almost - we've had conceptual art, this is conceptual millinery.
At the same time, it's impossible not to think of this spherical mink doodad as a summary of fashion itself. What is fashion about if not the ephemeral - fashions are here today, gone tomorrow, forgotten next season. That's a system Jacobs has down pat. On the other hand, the constant, consistent and underlying purpose of fashion has always remained the same - to embellish, to gild the lily, to put the cherry on top of the cake. If we think about it literally, isn't this hat nothing more than an oversized, overripe cherry? Although in this case, the cherry is ice-blue.