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Marc Jacobs asks the 'Oliver!' lament: 'Who will buy?'

A model walks the runway at the Marc

A model walks the runway at the Marc Jacobs Fall 2012 fashion show. (Feb. 13, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Now that Marc Jacobs, once perennially tardy, starts his shows at the appointed hour ON THE DOT, wise fans and fashionistas show up early. Luckily, he gives us lots to consider while we wait. His shows are generally the most elaborate and contemplative of the week, more like theatrical events, or performance art, than mere runway show. Monday night’s event at the Lexington Avenue Armory was no different.

A stage was set up at one end, with a tableau of off-kilter white buildings, as if drawn and cut out of construction paper by Tim Burton, Dr. Seuss or some stylish tyke. From there, an undulating runway emerged, complete with cartoony fountain.

A sumptuous orchestral arrangement of “Who Will Buy?”—a song from the musical, “Oliver!”—started things off, and as the first models descended the curving runway, we could tell we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Not with those hats—massive, wide-brimmed toppers of plush beaver, fox or mink, like a child’s brainstorm (or Little Edie Bouvier Beale’s) after wrapping mom’s stole round her head. If we hear someone broke into the hat boxes of ‘90s performer Jamiroquai, Jacobs will be Suspect Numero Uno.

The models were certainly layered for warmth—the first clad in a purple, double-faced Shetland coat with black Shetland stole pinned round the shoulders plus an embroidered silk scarf, a patchwork kangaroo skirt atop satin pants, sparkly Lurex socks and an embroidered shoe with low heel and big buckle, vaguely Pilgrimish—vaguely, because I don’t think many Puritans went in for rainbow metallic footwear. Got all that? And the hat—don’t forget the hat.

As more models paraded round, in similar wardrobes, with thick fabrics and knits, some toting massive ostrich-feather bags, the look felt vaguely British and early-last-century. (Is Marc addicted to “Downton Abbey,” too?) But unlike so many designers who lamely try to resurrect other decades—‘50s, again…’80s, again—Jacobs is crafting his own trend. (Again.)

If retailers follow, and consumer do, as the song asks, “BUY,” expect to see dresses of heavy-weight fabrics (brocade, tinsel tweeds), with slightly exaggerated hips (I know, I know...) and below-the-knee hemlines, plus sparkly socks and crazy-colored metallic shoes. And if you toss a fur stole round your head, no one will bat an eye.


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