Marching to the Pink

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — And so the first leg of the four-week marathon that is Fashion Month (let’s be honest here) came to an end — with a thought:

“There’s been so much going on. Can we move the house to a place where nothing ever happens and things are slower? I’ll be happy there.”

The quote, which originated in a 1976 short film by John Smith called “The Girl Chewing Gum,” came courtesy of Marc Jacobs, who layered the narrative excerpt over his background music via personal sets of Beats headphones (one for every member of the audience to create “an immersive sound experience,” according to a Marc-ite). It provided the white noise to a pink set — a giant bubble-gum pink house and a pink sandy pathway — the better to frame a collection of oversize Army/Navy-inspired jackets and trousers and shirtdresses in military tones of loden and dark blue, complete with big brass buttons.

It sounds cartoonish, and it was, a bit. But as the show progressed, the ideas and details began to shape-shift, so a pocket slid to one hip and grew enormous, and then maybe appeared as a satin patch with crystal-encrusted buttons, and the buttons themselves became cabochon baubles at the hem or waist before moving on to dangle en tremblant from a lace T-shirt minidress. Trench tent jackets had trapeze backs, and abbreviated baby-doll dresses rose up at the front of the waist like a balloon.

If the extremity of the volumes, both big and brief, was challenging (which it was), odds are it will be reduced to a manageable level when the garments finally arrive in stores.

Jacobs famously settled in New York last year after more than a decade of commuting between the city and Paris, giving up his second job as artistic director of Louis Vuitton to concentrate on his own house ... sorry, brand.

Although arguably Manhattan is not what most of us imagine when we think of a “slower” place, everything is relative, and with their nod to 1970s uniform thrift-store chic, overlaid with a sense of Parisian polish in the glossy fabrics and couture shapes, the clothes were an effective fusion of Jacobs’ own downtown sensibility and the experience gained in a French atelier.

As a result, it was hard not to read a broader message into the words: a comment about the pressures on designers (especially those who serve two houses); the pop culture noise of fashion; and the speed of the fashion cycle, in which the London collections start almost immediately after New York ends.

Let’s see if we are happy there.