Marc Jacobs Spring 2013

Hats off! And while you’re at it, ditch the amazing pilings, the mashes of textures and the wistful spirit that made Marc Jacobs’ fall show such a magical fashion moment. Spring, Jacobs said in a preview, would be about restraint. And “very, very brutal. Brutal in its simplicity. That’s our new word for the season.”If the word was harsher than the reality of the fashion, it accurately described the intensity of the shift. One of the essential marks of Jacobs’ work is his ability to make those giant seasonal moves while retaining every bit of his identity, a trait he shares with Miuccia Prada and not many others. Only a die-hard maximalist would consider his explosion of graphics — rubberized leather leopard prints, micro sequined checkerboards and stripes, stripes, stripes — examples of restraint, but by Jacobs’ standards, they were. They were also highly wearable; no deconstruction necessary to see the real clothes beneath the romance.

He varied the lineup somewhat with short, midriff-baring jackets and T-shirts over briefs. His concession to girlier fare: curvy dresses, their wide stripes cut into flamboyant bicolored scalloped hems, and a terrific group that repeated many of the earlier shapes — polo shirt, dress, suit, fabulous beige coat — in solids with ruffled two-tone collars. Jacobs also offered an alternative to the linear stripes in variations that made provocative curves around the body. Like the set, these could have been inspired by the work of choreographer Michael Clark. For evening, floor-length sequined T-shirts in contrasting black-and-white patterns inset with chiffon strips made for an engagingly casual way for a girl to sparkle.

NY Times Fashion

So the message for summer 2013 was hard, young and graphic as opposed to sweet and dreamy. Some skirts were so short that as the models walked the raised triangular platform with a multitude of doors, matching underpants peeked out to protect their modesty. Other hemlines swept the floor, or, more accurately, the flat shoes with pointed toes that ran through the collection.

The geometric elements were everywhere: zigzag op-art patterns or harlequin effects; shoes with checkered heels. The show — from its Edie Sedgwick hair to its graphic handbags — was an eye-zinger and a blockbuster.  The Marc Jacobs look is always powerful and unique, creating a clear image for the brand, and deliberately out of synch with the prevailing trends.

It was so simple. Back to those notes: T-shirt, coat, slip, skirt, suit, bra, etc., etc., etc. No embellishment needed. Jacobs distilled a radical moment of transition in style, between the suited young ladies of the early sixties and the free spirits of the later part of the decade, the kind of woman Edie was, passing from preppy-proper to pilled-out style icon in her patent leather and leopard spots, petaled hems and smudgy mascara-ed eyes. And stripes. So many stripes, parallel lines, black and white and sequined, like Lou Reed lyrics coming to life. But it's the genius of Jacobs that something that was so powerfully evocative of the past didn't seem retro or nostalgic. This is partly because his approach to anything that came before is so obviously cavalier. Look at the ease with which he renders his own immediate past—as in last season, with its OTT headgear—quite literally old hat.

More to the point, it's also because the stripped-down nature of these clothes just looks right right now. Ruby Jean's T-shirt? Obvs. But Jamie Bochert's jumpsuit of sequined stripes had the kind of linear immediacy that would surely generate a why-didn't-I-think of-that? moment for other designers. And, as far as radical moments of transition go, all those skewed suits with their visible bras and hip-slung skirts felt like the slyest assault on Republican propriety that fashion is likely to mount this election year. Change from within? It wouldn't be the first time Marc Jacobs insinuated subversion into the heart of high fashion.

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