Not Even Lady Gaga Could Distract from the Goth Magic of Marc Jacobs’s Fall 2016 Collection

It was Hot Topic meets Beetlejuice meets 'Downton Abbey' — there were even emo cats.
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Dhani Mau
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It was Hot Topic meets Beetlejuice meets 'Downton Abbey' — there were even emo cats.
Marc Jacobs fall 2016. Photo: Imaxtree

Marc Jacobs fall 2016. Photo: Imaxtree

With the rapid rise of modeling's "Instagirls," there’s been a somewhat unfortunate phenomenon of certain shows becoming more about the celebrity models than the clothes, with first reactions along the lines of, "Gigi walked!" or, "There's Kendall, of course she was in this show, Katie Grand loves her!" While Instagram and the stunt-casting trend are partially to blame, perhaps some of the fault falls on designers for not presenting exciting enough collections. 

Despite the fact that both Jenner and Lady freaking Gaga walked Marc Jacobs’s fall 2016 show on Thursday night, which also had the most star-studded front row of Fashion Week, it was undeniably all about the clothes. Maybe I just contradicted myself by mentioning them in the intro of this article, but I'm being 100 percent honest when I say they barely crossed my mind while watching the collection walk around the circular, white, ice skating rink-esque "runway" at the Park Avenue Armory. They blended right in with the others in Jacobs's luxurious, macabre designs as flickering lights and a soundtrack of bells slowly ringing at various pitches entranced the entire audience. And as models walked out, a large, creepy shadow cast onto the white wall behind them.

Marc Jacobs collections tend to be the least predictable of New York Fashion Week. Whatever other designers are doing, he does the exact opposite. But for fall 2016, he had a similar reference in mind to Alexander Wang, Rodarte and, well, Rihanna: goth. Much like the cosmetics in the punk beauty look, just about every piece of clothing was black. Not only that, but there were distinctly mall-goth elements in many of the early looks: super-oversized sweatshirts worn over baggy, wide-leg black pants with exceptionally vertiginous platform boots peeking out from underneath; stripes and checkerboard prints like those that adorn many Hot Topic items; spiderwebs and even an emo cat motif that recalled Emily the Strange. One look featured rats — a motif Jacobs has used in the past.

Of course, Jacobs put his own weird, luxurious spin on all this. Victorian collars, lacy full skirts (some done up in laser-cut leather), pussy bow necklines, long, traditionally tailored, embroidered coats and some of the more covered-up eveningwear felt very "Downton-Abbey"-in-mourning (a reference I used when describing Jacobs's fall 2015 collection, which had some similar elements). Other pieces wouldn’t have looked out of place on a member of the band KISS. Still others were more Lydia Deetz. Oversized, menswear-inspired tweed and leather coats with exaggerated shoulders added an element of strangeness to many looks that completely threw off any congruous theme that might have emerged. Some, like the one worn by Gaga, were adorned with large strips of fur. The elevated-goth aesthetic was best exemplified by things like a sequined black jacket with multicolored feathers at the shoulders and a loose, round-neck, sequined black dress with a spiderweb embroidered onto it, along with bits of crochet and lace ruffles. Some of the eveningwear felt very John Galliano.

As the show went on, any reference to a specific time or place became less and less clear, with the clothes becoming more unique and detailed, the vibe more haunting and villainous — culminating in a vast, checkered fur cape worn by the extraordinarily tall Molly Bair, whose height only added to the look’s unsettling appearance as it slowly dragged across the floor. There was no doubt that she, not Lady Gaga nor Kendall Jenner, was the star of this show — the queen of the dead, punk-rock, goth, Victorian villains, if you will.