We had contented ourselves with the fact that Marc Jacobs would be absent from the New York Fashion Week schedule for Fall 2022. In the last two years, the designer has only made one appearance, in June 2021. But in the way only Marc Jacobs can, the designer surprised us just as NYFW drew to a close, leaving an unexpected final course by way of ten looks dropped on Instagram and then published alongside an interview with i-D.
Lensed by Amy Troost, whose partner Alastair McKimm is both editor-in-chief of i-D and stylist to Marc Jacobs, the collection is fronted by some of the most recognisable faces, namely both Hadid sisters, Mica Argañaraz, Anok Yai, Selena Forrest, Eden Joi, Luke Lenski, Julia Nobis, Sora Choi and Valentine Alvarez.
When describing the design process to i-D, Marc Jacobs emphasised his fixation with the need to transform, to elevate the pieces. “There was this word that kept going around early on in the process: elevate", he said. “‘It has to be elevated, it has to be elevated.’ I looked it up in the dictionary — and to elevate has two definitions. Firstly: to raise or lift something up to a higher position, and secondly: to raise to a more important or impressive level.”
Therefore at the heart of the collection is the act of repurposing. Cargo pants are deconstructed and remade into trailing cargo skirts, a denim jacket is knotted around the shoulders to resemble a cape, or wings, and voluminous quilted outerwear serves as a protective shawl, morphing the slight frame of the model into a towering, immutable figure. “We played with the clothes that we made before in order to make other, new clothes," Jacobs said, creating a meta, circular design economy.
There is something pristine about the collection, something dare I say, otherworldly, about each look. This is despite its apocalyptic quality and the violent-seeming process that it took to reach these ends. After all, turtle necks are slashed and wrapped around the torso to look like bandages, denim ragged and fraying at the hemlines, fringed tubing weaved around the bodice without reason or rhyme. Eye makeup is frosted or dark and hazy, hollowing out the eyes and intensifying each model's gaze.
But instead of being harbingers of death, beneath their monochromatic looks the ten models rise up as monuments of hope, offering up some of Jacob's own advice of elevating to repurpose and re-contextualise, a sort of "use the lemons to make lemonade" messaging that cannot be divorced from the pandemic.
“I struggle sometimes with wondering: is this all a loss or a gain?", Jacobs told i-D. "Is this what we’re able to do, or what we want to do?” he continued. “The truth is, there’s a little of both. But we do what we can, and we do it with all of our heart and the confidence and strength that we would regardless."