the sound of silence at marc jacobs fall/winter 17

Shades of brown and beige on a hyper-diverse cast were the focal points for a show with no music and no set.

by Rory Satran
17 February 2017, 7:40pm

For a designer whose runway shows have included a multi-million dollar steam train and a carousel, no set is a big deal. So when Marc Jacobs showed his fall/winter collection yesterday in an empty Lexington Armory, editors sat up a little straighter. Ditto when the first model began walking through the long alley of folding chairs to utter silence. No soundtrack whatsoever (not even one played through headphones like his spring/summer 15 show). Instructed to put away our phones, the only distraction from the clothing was the click-clack of the largely platformed 70s shoes and a soft whispering. Like Kanye West the day before, Jacobs seemed intent on focusing our attention on the looks, and making it easy to see them.

Mission accomplished in that sense. The proximity to the clothing was quite thrilling, with a close look at all the argyle, feathered, and furry textures, and the glimmering touches of gold in the form of hoop earrings, chunky zippers, and Urs Fischer-designed pendants. The collection was based on Marc's fascination with the early days of rap, and in particular the documentary Hip-Hop Evolution. Ribbed knits, short skirts, and synthetic bell-bottoms accurately portrayed a late-70s silhouette, but most accurate was the sense of passion for dressing. These were the kind of impactful total looks that Jamel Shabazz famously photographed in the Bronx. In the designer's words, "It is an acknowledgment and gesture of my respect for the polish and consideration applied to fashion from a generation that will forever be the foundation of youth culture street style." Stephen Jones collaborated on puffy hats that were inspired by Andre 300, and seemed designed to either cover an afro or suggest one.

Most critically, we were looking at the fantastic range of women themselves. Jacobs sent twenty-seven models of color down the runway, as well as one trans man (Casil McArthur). Also striking was the diversity within that group: from activist Winnie Harlow to Instagram muse Slick Woods to Gurls Talk founder Adwoa Aboah, these are women that show the multitude of ways models can make their voices heard. As he discussed with WWD in the lead-up to his show, Jacobs had been thinking about how the girls in the dresses at shows had become as important as the dresses themselves. "But that's just the world we live in," he said.

A world where editors couldn't put their phones away for long. As we exited the Armory, the music was blasting from an installation of giant speakers by Stefan Beckman (glad he had something to do!), and the cast was arranged in a very Instagrammable mise-en-scene. One that went in both directions -- the models were also taking photos of the crowd assembled, with iPhones covered in brown leather cases. 


Text Rory Satran
Photography Mitchell Sams

marc jacobs
New York Fashion Week
Adwoa Aboah
winnie harlow
binx walton
fall/winter 17
nyfw fw17
autumn/winter 17