Christy Turlington, one of the original 1990s supermodels, was the last to walk the Marc Jacobs runway on Wednesday night at New York fashion week. Like the other models, a single spotlight fell on her and her feathered strapless gown. The mood of this show was cinematic, with guests sitting on metal stools in a darkened room watching models only illuminated by that single spotlight. The orchestral music, with frenzied violins, only added to the drama and suspense.
The backstory here is that Jacobs’ brand is one that continues to have rumours of a troubled atmosphere swirl around it with stores closing recently and staff numbers cut. There is increasing speculation that the brand may close. Jacobs’ appearance at the end of the show – where he looked visibly emotional – will only stoke those rumours.
In some senses, however, it was business as usual here. The front row featured Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross and Sofia Coppola and, unlike last season, the show started – as is Jacobs’ usual custom – bang on 6pm.
The collection showed the skills of a designer who has been in fashion for over 30 years. Gorgeous clouds of black tulle were transformed into a strapless gown, and a checked trouser suit with metallic threads was a playful take on tailoring. Tiered floral dresses worn under capes had a fairytale heroine feel to them, while other models’ outfits – with checked coats and feathered veils – could have come straight from a Hitchcock film. Jacobs’ current preoccupation is volume – hence more cloud-like dresses and a floor-length green glittered gown with a bustle at the back. The last 10 or so outfits – all in black and white – felt classically chic.
This is unlikely to stop the industry chatter, however. Last June, the New York Times ran an article titled How Marc Jacobs Fell Out of Fashion in which it revealed the company – part of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH – had estimated losses of around €50m (£44m) annually for several years, with flat revenues. The September show at New York Fashion Week did little to quash rumours of trouble. It started 90 minutes late, with several editors, including Anna Wintour, leaving before it began.
Perhaps as a counterpoint to the chatter, Jacobs is on something of a bid to rebrand himself as a celebrity. This week, he announced – via a video on his favoured medium of Instagram, featuring his two dogs and influencer Derek Blasberg – that he will be relaunching the Marc Jacobs YouTube channel, with this show live-streamed on the platform. He also has the requisite controversies required for that spot in the public eye. In January, it was revealed that Jacobs would be sued by Nirvana for using a version of their smiley-face logo in his Redux Grunge collection.
Earlier in the day, Michael Kors ensured a night to remember for his show despite its 10am start time. Barry Manilow, dressed in an orange sequin jacket, was joined by Patti Hansen and a gaggle of models, to sing Copacabana for the finale.
With disco the mood, guests – including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas and Kate Hudson – were greeted by a collection of chandeliers and disco balls in a darkened room on Wall Street. The collection provided the wardrobe. Sequins, gold, marabou and platform heels came as standard across men’s and womenswear with flamboyance and glamour the key words. In case anyone was in doubt of the disco theme, the logo of Studio 54 – now shorthand for the most debauched ideal of 1970s New York nightlife – covered a floor-length padded jacket, a sequin minidress and luggage.
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