Monday, February 23, 2009

Marc Jacobs F/W 2009 Fashion Show Review by Peter

Tipper Newton, from mumblecore movies, was at my local bar last week in Greenpoint. Two days in a row. The second day looked like some kind of date.

Both days, she sat at a table by the plate glass window. Was it on purpose, to be seen? Or was it not her, just a lookalike copping her style?

I kept wondering about this important issue while checking out photos of the Marc Jacobs Fall collection. Why? I think the connection is, I identify with mumblecore actors, just like I root for Marc Jacobs, and unfortunately that means you gird yourself against disappointment when they present you with something new. After all, they have their own shit to worry about besides pleasing you.

And so I feared the worse when checking out MJ Fall, after the media reported that Marc had gone 80s neon, spandex, blah blah - mentioning a lot of things that were not my version of the 80s. Yes, I remember shiny fabrics and Dippity-Do hair but that was on the TV in all the worst music videos. My 80s - and including the people I most respect in fashion today, our 80s - was an exciting music scene, with hardcore punk and Morrissey holding sway, beginning the very DIY movement that we now see represented in mumblecore cinema, and the beautiful stripped-down life that still holds such appeal in my North Brooklyn neighborhood. Yes, we still watched, and liked, John Hughes movies and other iconic moments of universal appeal. But we did not mine the 80s in a cheap way.

And that got me thinking about today's DIY, and made me think about putting MJ's best fall designs on poor Tipper Newton, who did not ask to play a role in my digression, and really just wants to keep on in her iconic Williamsburg-y way, making movies with commercially unsuccessful, fucking awesome directors (well, maybe that is her motivation - depends on the answer to that plate glass window question above).

What I saw as most interesting in MJ Fall - as opposed to what I saw as most predominant - was a handmade, not glam, influence, a look more compatible with being sewn off patterns among the Montrose stop cognoscenti than with being mass-faked in China vinyl. (And, by the way, most predominant in the collection was classic Parisian black chic or super-polite micropattern prints, not 80s-wear - but more on that later).

For example:

I love the way this dress just pops. But note it manages to do it with deep fall color in the top and dignified grey stripes in the skirt. It's like one of those "make a dress out of your mother's 80s blouse and grandad's pj's!" projects you see in ReadyMademagazine - except, of course, as put together by a great designer.

This is not the 80s - can you see Melanie Griffith wearing these tights in Working Girl? I do see them on 20-something web art interns today, though.

The silver vertical studding immediately suggests to 80s punk veterans the era's safety pin piercings (let's give etymology credit to A. McQueen, too). This dress represents a successful synthesis of MJ's main Fall 09 themes - the punk pins, the pop of 80s color, with a French chic combination of soft free fabric balanced with close tailoring. Granted, the design is a little simple, but when MJ wanted to go more big statement . . .

he sometimes returned to his personal history of the 80s, which unfortunately was the time he was a design student, with its attendant and typical flaws of college-y naivete: non-purposeful asymmetry, mummy dresses (no more!), and unsophisticated color combinations (it's like, purple, pink, black, and green! I hung it up next to my M.C. Escher drawing on my Parsons dorm wall!). Fortunately, MJ's 80s apparently also included Mad Max sunglasses.

The obvious objection to my take on MJ Fall is: if I'm right about MJ's design motivation in this collection, then why did he put up so many all-black, elegant, conservative looks? (Those are not pictured here, because face it, that's what people are going to buy so you'll see plenty of it around the office in a few months). I think there are a few obvious answers to this. First, you are not going to sell a lot of expensive clothes to people in East Williamsburg. They are going to adopt your work into their own manufacture - hardly an unequitable arrangement, considering they provided your inspiration and direction, and of course they can't afford it. Second, there is no point in showing DIY where DIY used to be survival plan against an unaffordable zeitgeist, and now no one can afford anything. And you know the bankers aren't going DIY, because then they would look poor like me and you, not happening!

For the bankers out there who kept their jobs, or at least got out with a sssweet bonus, MJ suggests the following evening wear:

Why am I drawn to these clothes? Because - I love Staten Island girls! And now they will have been (justifiably) exonerated by the rich wearing their look out at the clubs. Honestly, I am not being sarcastic - this look is most compatible with how people should dress late-night for a DJ or concert. And here's a nice North Brooklyn twist on the pleating style in that last photo:

Yes! (About the styling, not necessarily the dress, which might be too idiot-proof). To engage in a little healthy self-criticism, us Brooklynites were getting a little twee lately, right? This styling is not twee - it's angry like Sasha Fierce! (You can take away my twee but not my sarcasm).

That's why the Fall collection gives me hope: might we really be all hanging out in the nighttime together: glam clubbers dressed like they are giving away the cocaine? With detail-oriented conservative Spencer girls in grey and black, and Bushwick crafters? Might that there be fashion solidarity in these retrograde times.

xx and with Love


Anonymous said...

Is it Peter Y "the Great"? I love him. BMS

Alice Saga said...

yes my dear.