Here’s a riddle for you: What sound does a gigantic and round cream puff of a dress make as it comes to life, finally able to expand, when you pull it out of the box or the garment bag it traveled in? Picture the final expression of a flower budding, in fast-forward on hyper-speed, like something you’d watch on Planet Earth; maybe only a hummingbird with the ears of a hunting dog could hear it, but the imagined sound effect is there.
I think it’s a “PWOOF!” sound — or maybe it’s more of a “THWOP!”
I’ll tell you that from the crowd, when such a dress came out at Marc Jacobs last night, there was an (inaudible, fine, but palpable) “Ahhhhhhhh!” in exhaled awe.
The boring part of the night, explained only to give you context, is that the Park Avenue Armory-held show — fairly bare-bones in terms of production and set design, as is his norm these days — started pretty late, and because Marc Jacobs is so known for his punctuality (you fear for your life to arrive even on the dot) rumors started swirling that maybe backstage they were waiting on a final look to arrive. And I believe it, only because when the collection did start walking down the runway, it arrived-arrived. Like, “TA-DA!”
And then everyone needed a moment to collect themselves and stuff their hearts back into their chests.
Marc Jacobs’s Spring 2018 collection was a thrilling delight. The best looks were the most impractical: super-short Shirley Temple dresses so big and wide the models really were all legs; massive fabric-swirled collars that spiraled into rosebuds or galaxy-esque shapes and blocked their wearers’ faces; Victorian clown-like gowns with crinoline hems that hit just below knees and showed off the glittering stems that trotted them out — all impossible to wear in and out of elevators, bathroom stalls or cars (you’d need a team and a push), so you can only imagine the trouble of getting them to this show on time. I don’t blame a single one!
The show-stopper, or the Instagram favorite, seemed to be look 35: a metallic pink dress dreamed up of confectioner’s sugar, whipped into pink gossamer threads that hardened into candy ribbons and turned into a dress. Every doll you’ve ever had, be she princess or tractor driver, needs to put it on immediately.
There were “wearable” things too, equally as lovely, even if a little more toward the street-safe side of practical: a bright yellow bell-shaped raincoat, a trench coat, the suits, a solid sparkle top, knit twinsets and, with the exception of the party pants, all were tinged with a Jackie Kennedy 1960s influence — but done the Marc way, i.e., overflowing over the top.
These are clothes made to admire, enjoy and be frivolous in. If I had all the money in the world I’d buy one dress from this collection and throw a party just to celebrate it. If I had even more money than that, I’d buy the lot, then invite my friends to come try them on in a dress-up movie montage. I’d stage a scene like in Crazy Rich Asians where a few of us sit on a chaise lounge and watch as the others parade about. And we’d all eat candy and drink champagne and wear indoor-shoes on white carpets and there’d be music blasting over our shrieks. These clothes are purely for the fun of it. They’re for the editorial fashion of it, for the sake of a whirlwind superfluous fantasy.
These clothes are also for “fuck it” moments, where you decide, “To hell with the dress code!,” to hell with being demure, quiet, easy-going, low maintenance, accommodating, polite, ladylike. New York’s primary elections were the morning after Marc Jacobs’ show; I pictured women rolling up to the polls wearing these big old things in droves.
For anyone who sees this collection and thinks to themselves, “Okay, great sentiment, but I’ll never actually wear that,” me either. It’s all a metaphor, man; drink it up like the thickest strawberry milkshake you’ve ever had.
If I had to guess why he didn’t use the runway, as so many designers recently have done, to say something in response to the unavoidable, palpably tense climate in 2018, I’d say that in his own Marc Jacobs way, he did: by offering levity during a time when pursuing it can feel irresponsible. By offering a reprieve, even if a fleeting one, that can be returned to by logging online and clicking through a slideshow of it. There was something comical to the proportions shown last night: tiny heads atop those cream puff middles, arms useless when buried in so many ruffles, which can’t be a mistake. Comedy breeds laughter. That chance to exhale is therapeutic.
Feature image by Pietro D’aprano/FilmMagic. Photos via Vogue Runway.