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Marc Jacobs SS17 NYFW Womenswear Dazed
Backstage at Marc Jacobs SS17Courtesy of Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs’ cyberpunks close NYFW with a rave

Japanese Lolitas, 70s glam rockers and Camden Town cyberpunks collide at the designer’s explosive SS17 show

It’s hard not to be affected by those opening bars of keys that build up to the thump of Underworld’s seminal track “Born Slippy”. For many, it will conjure up memories of coming of age in the mid-90s, when ecstasy (in drug and emotive form) came easy and when things could only get better as the Blairite regime came into swing. When that track rang through solidly and singularly in the Hammerstein Ballroom for Marc Jacobs’ show last night, a thousand dangling lightbulbs switched on as if to bring collective lucidity to everyone in the room.

There can be no doubt that Marc Jacobs has now entered a joyous, devil-may-care phase in his career. Free to concentrate purely on Marc Jacobs the brand, which now combines both the elements of his mainline and the more commercial pieces, he’s been on an indulgent bend that ensures his shows have the last and emphatic word at New York Fashion Week. Retaining the mega platform dolly-slash-goth laced shoes of last season, his SS17 girls gabba-ed and raved their way down, their heads bouncing with pastel-hued boiled wool dreadlocks created by Etsy shop owner Jena Count. The dreads did pick up a few raised eyebrows of cultural appropriation but they were misdirected – these were clearly an extreme iteration of the happy-go-lucky UV-friendly raver dreads and light-up plastic noodle hairpieces.

“It was the sort of eclectic mix that only Jacobs could wittily put together without any of it looking like a pastiche of a subculture”

When it came to the clothes, it was the sort of eclectic mix that only Jacobs could wittily put together without any of it looking like a pastiche of a subculture. Where to begin? You had Japanese Victoriana-inspired Lolitas, 1970s extreme glam rock, the jewels of Biba’s legendary Kensington Store, Patricia Field’s zany mix, the best of what Camden had to offer in cyberpunk gear, the glitziest of showgirl costumes and more recently, the much-vaunted work of Meadham Kirchhoff. It’s saddening that enough time has passed for the London duo’s work to be a cultish reference and yet it was joyful that their kind of excess can still exist and thrive in contemporary fashion.

Jacobs wasn’t just drawing from his own youth-driven obsessions but also from his own back catalogue as he once again collaborated with the illustrator Julie Verhoeven to reprise the whimsical patchwork designs, last seen in his SS02 Louis Vuitton show. Metallic scenes of rainbows, fried eggs, candy cane stripes and other imaginary scenescapes from Verhoeven’s arsenal were patchworked in metallic leathers on sweatshirts and bags, the towering platforms and on the back of statement jackets. That’s another future collectible to add to the many artist/creative tie-ups that Jacobs has conjured up.  

When Jacobs emerged to the closing thump of that iconic anthem, he gave a quick bow and journalists were told that he wasn’t going to be doing any greetings. He had already left the building, which seemed fitting for a collection that needed little explanation or parsing. You either got it or you didn’t.