Spring Collections or Spring Break?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — Youth is wasted on the young, but fashion has a way of yanking it back. Guests at the Marc by Marc Jacobs show arrived at a rave temple, with enormous black speakers stacked like altars and bathed in neon glow. The Marc by Marc designers, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, don’t frequent raves as they once did while growing up in England in the 1980s and ’90s, circa rave’s first go-round.

“I was at the Haçienda,” Bartley said, referring to Manchester’s infamous club. “My mom still doesn’t know.”

Hillier and Bartley marshaled their forces to resurrect rave, which gave their collection a spirit of “hard-core idealism,” Bartley said, euphoric and militant at once. The collective aspect is key to the appeal of party culture, then or now: “You’re part of something,” she said. And, she scarcely needed to add, it’s fun.

So is Marc by Marc Jacobs. The designers’ debut last season was an engine-rev of a collection, announcing a willingness to shake off the cobwebs of its recent retro seasons and speed toward something new. This was that, more refined if no less brash. In only two seasons, the designers have gained back a lot of ground the collection lost, reclaiming its original ideal of youthful verve.

In youth is not necessarily naïveté. Not with as much plastic and latex as Bartley and Hillier applied. They claimed it came from a look at the artists of the epochal Ferus Gallery of midcentury Los Angeles, with their love of found materials, resin and rubber. That didn’t quite acknowledge its sexual twinge. But polka-dot bikini bandeaux twisted over crop-top shirts were perversity peddled with a smile.

Jeremy Scott is another designer with a party spirit to ply, and he, too, fosters a collective all his own. His tribe is a diverse one. Miley Cyrus, the rapper 2 Chainz, Whoopi Goldberg, Perez Hilton and Nicky Hilton were all on hand to see his show.

The collection, “Psychedelic Jungle,” was an eye-popping, flower-powered spin on Scott’s usual fare. His skirts are reliably short. He prefers his pants tight. Groundbreaking, subtle or office-friendly it is not. But Scott’s style so glories in its unrestraint (it is applied as if by fire hose) that it is effectively insulated from any doubters’ carping by sheer audacity. In this, Scott is similar to Cyrus, who contributed crowns and jewelry fashioned from pompoms, plastic pot leaves, beads and bric-a-brac to the show. Together they took their bow after the show.

You could fight; you could frown. But the party rages on, and the crowd roars.