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Marc Jacobs SS23 womenswear show New York
Courtesy of Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs paid tribute to ‘hero’ Vivienne Westwood at NY show

Here’s what went down at the designer’s intimate off-schedule SS23 outing

Where fashion season used to be confined to a few months of the year, increasingly designers are looking to fill the cracks and bleed out into the spaces between this ‘big’ shows – these quiet moments allowing them to shine away without the competition of 10 or 15 other fashion extravaganzas per day. For a few seasons, it was a tactic Burberry looked to, as it encouraged models to cast manners aside and clamber up on the table tops at its SS22 show, while just this week Francesco Risso traipsed all the way to Tokyo to debut his newest offering for Marni, with the Japanese capital the latest destination on his whirlwind tour of the globe. Also getting in on the off-schedule action is Marc Jacobs, who, let’s face it, has never done things by the book. Last night, the designer dropped what he’d been working on across the course of the last few months in an intimate show on Park Avenue. Here’s what you missed.


Jacobs isn’t short of celeb pals – this is the man who has the likes of Kate Moss and Winona Ryder on speed dial – so a glitzy FROW is always on the agenda when it comes to his shows. While Moss and Ryder were nowhere to be seen, Emily Ratajkowski, Nicky Hilton, and Ashley Graham took spots at the sidelines. Heavyweights came in the form of Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Madonna’s bestie, iconic actor and nightlife legend Debi Mazar. Speaking of Madonna, her daughter Lourdes also showed up to the show, but was turned away at the door given models were already stamping up and down the runway. Who knew that Jacobs, once renowned for his mega-late running shows, would one day be running a prompt ship? 


Unlike the kind of big budget productions Jacobs once used to orchestrate during his time at Louis Vuitton, in 2023, the designer is a lot more stripped back in his approach to fashion shows these days. This season’s outing took place in a dimly lit space without pomp or props, so all eyes were on the runway. The soundtrack to the night was similarly understated, with famed American musician Jennifer Koh providing a frenetic Philip Glass violin solo under a single spotlight. 


Westwood’s influence on fashion cannot be overstated, so it was a surprise to land at January’s menswear shows and find so few labels paying her the respect she deserves after she passed away over Christmas. Joining Nigo, who littered his AW23 collection for Kenzo with subtle references to the Grand Dame of punk during Paris Fashion Week, was Jacobs, whose show notes dedicated his own offering to “All of our heroes past, and, young heroes present,” and finished with a quote from her own mouth: “Fashion is life enhancing, and I think it’s a lovely, generous thing to do for other people”. With Westwood’s memorial service taking place in London shortly ahead of LFW’s kick-off later this month, it’s likely that, alongside this tribute from Jacobs, there will be plenty of Britain’s young designers who acknowledge her contribution to fashion across the course of the schedule. 


Marc Jacobs initially made his name (or at least rose to notoriety) via his 1992 ‘Grunge’ collection for Perry Ellis, which got him fired from the American label and caused Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain to set pieces they’d been gifted on fire – so it’s no surprise that the upstart designer felt a kinship with Westwood, who pioneered the aesthetics of the punk movement of the 70s from her King’s Road boutique, Sex. That respect and admiration could be felt throughout Jacobs’ SS23 offering, which balanced his signature play on proportions and penchant for colour experimentation with subtle Westwood flourishes.

Big, blown up coats and jackets with protruding fabric globules sat atop elegant fishtail and ruched column skirts, most of which were rendered utilitarian through the addition of chunky cargo pockets and zips, while knitwear came similarly supersized, nipped in to the body by the models who walked down the runway with their arms folded. ‘Westwoodisms’ were felt in the strapless and off-the-shoulder gowns which creased and folded around the body, and, in some cases, featured her signature bustle detailing to the bum. Opening with a series of muted looks which spanned soft stone, pale marble, and deep khaki, the offering later exploded with bold fuchsia, almost neon yellow, and rich scarlet, with pearl jewellery by Mikimoto further evidence that Westwood was on Jacobs mind in the studio this season. 


As a fashion fan on TikTok, it’s a verified fact (potentially) that you’re never more than a few scrolls away from a pair of Jacobs towering Kiki boots, and love them or hate them, they’re not going anywhere. Though the rise of heel heights supposedly points to an economic boom – and lord knows we’re not experiencing one of those right now – Jacobs kitted every single member of his model cast out in a pair of the vertiginous stompers for SS23. Just watch those ankles, girlies!