Isolation was the word that sprang to mind at the end of the Marc Jacob’s show, which closed out New York Fashion Week on Thursday. The fashion world might have gathered together at the Park Avenue Armory to participate in the collective experience of watching one of the fashion world’s most famous designers unveil his latest oeuvre, but in the end they had never been more alone.
Originally, upon arrival at the venue and seeing the latest set - slash- art installation created by Steve Mackey, a different sentiment was evoked. The life size house in Pepto Bismol pink, with its windows and doors boarded up and its pebble lawn in a matching rosy shade, produced a wistful longing for home. Surely once the show got underway those apertures would open up to expose the world within.
It was a premonition that never became a reality. The audience remained frustrated voyeurs throughout the presentation.
Then there were the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones set out for each guest to wear during the show. Riffing on the silent disco phenomenon, each person who put on the headphones heard a computerized voice telling the models walking the runway what to do when they went inside the boarded up house. Here again some of the people who came to the show (the photographers, the standing guests) were sectioned off and left out of a major part of the show experience.
Even the eerie automated voice informed those lucky enough to be wearing the headphones that he wasn’t actually at the show. He was speaking to the audience from miles away in another part of the city. Again cut off from the proceedings.
Wading through all of these different layers and levels of isolation, the audience was challenged to try and focus on the collection being paraded in front of them. Not such an easy task with a robotic voice chattering away.
What did filter through all the levels of separation was a collection inspired by military garb, with its button closures becoming the leitmotif of the show. The makeup free models with their shaggy Prince Valiant wigs looked almost like sleepwalking fashion soldiers. Their once sharply tailored uniforms morphing into boxy big-buttoned oversized garments -- their army issue footwear traded in for stylized Dr. Scholl’s sandals.
As the show progressed, the military rigor was domesticated even further. Its power curtailed through the use of precious shinny satin fabrics. Its buttons coated in colorful shimmering crystals and eventually reimagined as cabochon stones on evening skirts.
The uniformity of these urban uniforms, the loss of any sense of individuality, made the collection itself the most detached aspect of this disquieting show.