A few weeks ago Selfridges announced their ‘Agender’ project, a gender-neutral retail space spanning three floors of their Oxford Street flagship store launching mid-March. It’s a timely concept, with men and women sharing the same off-duty uniform of slim jeans, oversized sweatshirts and flat sneakers, which is what makes Marc Jacobs’ overtly feminine offering for Autumn/Winter 2015 so fascinating.
As theatrical as the painted “Garden in Hell” backdrop it was shown against, the Diana Vreeland-inspired collection features a slew of cinched waists, full skirts and sleeves, fur and opulent embellishment. As a retrospective of the formidable Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue editor’s life and style it is an unmitigated success; as an alluring proposition for modern women I’m not so sure.
For balance I have to admit to loving Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier’s work for Marc by Marc Jacobs, especially next season’s Emmeline Pankhurst-meets-the Baader Meinhof gang-on-the-set-of-‘Bonnie and Clyde’. Whilst sharing some of the same details, like the long skirts, belted waists, and love of powerful women, the Brit duo manage to keep it in the day with some canny sloganeering and reappropriated William Morris prints.
Maybe Marc wants to distance his mainline collection further, or maybe it’s a reaction against the gender-neutral wardrobe proposed by Selfridges, but it’s hard to imagine what the Marc Jacobs label stands for, beyond the ever-present leg-of-mutton sleeve on a jacket. Sadly it will get copied everywhere, especially the three-quarter sleeve coat with leopard lapels, and the shimmering column dresses, purely because they’re Marc Jacobs.
Diana Vreeland invented the word “pizzazz”, and whilst this collection has pizzazz-a-plenty, it also demonstrates the widening chasm in New York fashion between real women and those who merely walk from car to restaurant, back to car, then the hotel. Strictly for lovers of fashion history with deep pockets.
Catwalk review by Lee Clatworthy (@BombFashion) for KatieChutzpah.com