Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou, Marc Jacobs of Olde?

I used to looove Marc Jacobs. He was a designer who didn't take himself too seriously, got inspired by (or, perhaps "ripped off", but still) vintage styles, and was responsible for a million trends- big buttons, fifties-style party dresses, tromp l'oiel, a return to mod that occurred before the current return to mod. I used to covet multiple Marc Jacobs pieces every season, and there are still a few I wistfully think about. There was the luxe LV line, the slightly cheaper namesake label, and the "diffusion" label Marc by Marc Jacobs that sometimes sold things I could think about buying, if they were on sale. (The look on the bottom left is Lily Cole wearing Louis Vuitton in one of my all-time favorite runway outfits, only a few years ago.)

However, Marc Jacobs doesn't design like that anymore. First, his Marc line became a tired retread of stuff he'd done before- hey, another vintage inspired coat with big buttons, but uglier! Then his runway shows really started to fall apart- well, in my opinion. For instance, this Spring 2006 look, while much heralded in Teen Vogue, really signalled the beginning of the end for me. Soon it was all saggy turtlenecks and pleated jeans and that layered collection everyone liked so much even though it included a floor-length denim skirt.

The pictures above (click!) are an example of the new Marc, a collection I might call "extremely frumpy" or "I can see how you were trying to do an early 80's YSL/40's thing but it failed." The look on the right reminds me of the long, shapeless rayon shirtdresses people wore in 1996, particularly with that fascinating black leather belt. The middle look, the puzzling sequined blouse with collar/shapeless black maxi skirt, neither plays the two pieces off each other well nor fails to make the wearer look like a slightly flashy 75-year old virgin. The last look seems to be nod to 40's era Joan Crawford-esque power suits, but efforts to "modernize" it have simply made it depressing. In fact, if there's one word to describe Marc Jacobs new collection, it would have to be "depressing." That, or "frumpy."

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