I once had an editor who told me that Marc Jacobs copies everyone a little bit — but that was okay, because he also has a way of turning every old idea into something totally new. But over the course of the famed creative’s decade-spanning career, in which he’s constantly borrowed and honed bits of fashion and cultural visual ephemera, I’d say the source he’s referencing most these days is himself. That was certainly the case last night at the Marc Jacobs Fall 2022 show, a sensory feast filled with revamped versions of the iconic designer’s greatest hits.
Showcased at the historic New York Public library (and live-streamed in Times Square: casual), the line-up of looks felt like a culmination of the style signatures Jacobs has spent roughly four decades perfecting. There were oversized ‘50s-kittenish kerchiefs that nodded to his creations from Fall 2020, and squarish, pocket-front jackets (deconstructed and worn backward) that drew from his utilitarian-glam Spring 2015 line. Nonpareil colors aplenty subtly winked toward Fall 2014 (aka Kendall Jenner’s #freethenipple catwalk debut), while the exaggerated couture-meets-streetwear silhouettes proved a natural progression from last season, in which Jacobs built dramatic, sculptural gowns out of puffer coat material and layered knits.
But herein lies the brilliance of Jacobs, what keeps us editors constantly coming back for more: While everything that walked through the NYPL’s hallowed marble halls last night was utterly familiar to those who follow fashion, the sum total of all parts felt totally fresh. Sure, we’ve seen oversized, chunky knitwear from Jacobs before. But has it ever been so blown out, twisted and wrapped around the body, that it seems like a protective cocoon you could hide in? Has he ever created his signature mall goth platforms (shout out to Fall 2016 season) in pure, patent leather white? These clothes were full of delightful contradictions: They were casual-but-dressy (a teal denim maxi skirt and matching jacket turned into a shawl), cozy-but-cumbersome (monstrously large sweaters piled and wrapped into ballgown-like shapes), and edgy-yet-soft (paratrooper-esque jumpsuits in pastel leather).
“Amidst an every-changing landscape of resources, unexpected obstacles and a world feverishly digitizing new standards of reality, my sentiment is unwavering — creativity is essential to living,” the designer said in his show notes, which also listed the star-studded model line up by first name only — Gigi! Bella! Kendall! — and the materials and shapes utilized throughout the collection. “We share our choices in contrast to the ongoing brutality and ugliness of a world beyond our insulated but not impermeable walls.”
While the designer did not directly reference the incessant and painful-to-process news cycles as of late, it was likely on his mind while crafting this line-up of fantastical, escapist fashion. These are, after all, pieces you can lose yourself in (quite literally in same cases), a fashion lover’s refuge for moments when the world’s myriad problems feel like too much to take on. As Jacobs aptly signs off in the show notes with a quote from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “We have art in order to not die of the truth.” And, fortunately, we have Marc Jacobs to give us the clothes we want to live in.