Marc Jacobs Gets Melancholy for Spring

An army-inspired collection points out the problems with modern fashion.
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An army-inspired collection points out the problems with modern fashion.

In a pepto-bismol pink room with a windowless, doorless suburban house at its center, Marc Jacobs presented a spring collection (watch below) that raged between the Scylla of immediacy and Charybdis of thoughtfulness in contemporary high fashion. It was serviceable, with accessories women will adore and comfortable shoes they might even love more, but also tinged with a deep sorrow.

A computer-generated voice recited show notes including details of the models and history of the Lexington Armory. The sounds echoed Radiohead's "Fitter Happier" or those text input computer games of the late '90s. But when paired with an army of models including Candice Swanepoel, Adriana Lima, Joan Smalls, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner wearing garments echoing army uniforms, the mood became decidedly ominous. The models' individuality was negated by the black bowl-cut wigs each wore, a theme reflected in the audience, which was crowded together on pink-carpeted risers but isolated by the Beats by Dre headphones each wore, hampering side conversations and all other aural contact with neighbors.

The clothing itself was mostly satin in neutral tones: olive, khaki, navy, blush and maroon. Joan Smalls opened the show in a V-neck cyan dress with hip pokets adorned with Jacobs's signature oversized buttons. A utility theme continued through the first group of looks, including an oversized navy army suit and cargo dresses. Anna Ewers carried more burgundy silk backpacks and totes than we'd know what to do with. Look 17, a t-shirt dress with a giant breast pocket and single flower worn over a gathered silk miniskirt, was especially haunting.

A sheer navy '50s silhouette dress embellished with crystals and gemstones gave off a housewife vibe that was quickly followed up with a series of embellished minidresses of all sorts. The show closed with Martha Hunt and Georgia May Jagger in strapless minidresses with huge pockets over the right hip. The final lines of the voice over spoke of finding a calmer place.

Maybe the secret to Marc Jacobs's latest show lies in another Radiohead song, "No Surprises." Sure, the fashion world is such a pretty house and such a pretty garden, but without the happy people there are no surprises. And in his own way, Jacobs riffed on the sameness, cult mentality and uniformity that is ruling fashion now. It's probably safe to say this was the most poignant show of New York Fashion Week ... and the most beautiful.