It was sort of fitting that a thunder-storm dumped sheets of rain on New York right before Marc Jacobs’s spring 2014 show. As we came in to the Lexington Ave. Armory dripping wet (OK, those of us without drivers came in dripping wet), it was all the more disorienting to be washed up on the hot (really hot! intentionally hot!) shores of some post-apocalyptic, post-rager beach. Bits of drift wood, a life-preserver, a beat up bus to “Dark Hollow”, a giant Adirondack chair, and pieces of unstable looking boardwalk dotted the massive set. Cigarette butts and mussed-up old Vogues were submerged in the black sand that covered the runway.
But it wasn’t some kind of post-Sandy metaphor as one of my seatmates hypothesized. (Jacobs was forced out of his home for months after it sustained significant damage in the hurricane.) Jacobs told Vogue that the inspiration was “Burning Man, the shores of Gotham in my dreams—or nightmares—[artist] Paul McCarthy’s “White Snow,” a frat party at the beach.”
So what kind of clothes could possibly make sense in this kind of setting? Well dark ones, of course (the theme from Jaws opened the show), and heavy ones. There wasn’t much warm weather-appropriate clothing in this collection.
To start, models–wearing identical shaggy scraggly boyish blond wigs–stormed the beach in cropped ornate military jackets adorned with tassels, fringed epaulets, braiding, the works. These were worn with hibiscus print surf shorts, obviously, and skateboard sneakers or glittery Teva-like sandals. (There’s that ugly shoe trend again.) Then came the dresses: long high-necked black silk numbers with lace and beading that looked like Victorian mourning dresses. Somewhere between those two extremes were extraordinarily beautiful dresses in that covered-up Victorian silhouette (long sleeves, long skirts, high neck) but done in the hibiscus surfer print and embroidered with sequins. It wasn’t hard to see that, out of the context of this rather terrifying beach party, these dresses will look stunning on the red carpet. But back at the beach, the sands held terrors for Marc Jacobs himself. The designer skidded down the sandy runway to take his bow.