Marc Jacobs reinvigorated New York’s fashion industry with his return to the catwalk, old-school style. Showing his Fall 2021 collection on Tuesday evening, well outside any American fashion week calendar, Jacobs came back on his own terms, at his own time, at the New York Public Library building on Fifth Avenue.
The show was poignant because Jacobs hasn’t staged a catwalk presentation in a year and half. Unlike other fashion houses, Jacobs hasn’t embraced the digital replacement of fashion week, releasing content after content to collect ‘likes’ and stay relevant. The brand instead took time to reflect and re-set, while behind the scenes we were privy to the ups, downs and wisdoms of its iconic founder on Instagram, as he embarked on a new trajectory both personally and professionally.
If we needed any reminding, Jacobs iterated it in his show notes: “Our decision to pause allowed us to slow down, to reflect, ruminate, reevaluate, grieve, and take a thorough inventory of what works, what doesn’t work, what we love, what we are willing to let go of, and what has value, importance, and meaning.”
The collection will be exclusively available at Bergdorf Goodman
Rather than embracing a see-now-buy-now business model to adjust to a new show slot, Jacobs has strategically adapted lower pricing to some of its ranges and will sell the runway collection exclusively at Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman department store. It’s a clever move as wholesaling during the pandemic, without traveling buyers and having to time releasing collections to a selling schedule, would have lost some of the magic of showing in the moment.
On a sweltering New York evening, Jacobs showed a collection that translated all the emotional effects of Covid-19: the cocooning of oversized hoods and puffer outerwear; the elongated silhouette of wideleg trousers, high necks and billowing sleeves; the chunky platform wedges, utilitarian knits (floorlength) and overall increased volumes to comfort the wearer. Even the cutaway body suits suggested more hugging the skin than showing flesh.
Jacobs usually closes New York fashion week, but this show heralded more the start of something, especially in America where fashion week has lacked relevance and inspiration. Jacobs has always operated on his own terms, but perhaps it took a pandemic to come back into his own.