marc jacobs’ fall/winter 16 goth queens
Epicly extravagant and eerily beautiful, Marc Jacobs’ procession of darkly ornamented living dolls closed out New York Fashion Week last night.
Marc Jacobs has created glittery odes to Americana in gilded cinemas, staged military drills in Pepto-pink worlds, and channeled the baroque interiors of Diana Vreeland's New York apartment. But his set at last night's show at the Park Avenue Armory was — though all-white and almost not a set at all — his most dramatic yet.
Before the models entered the icy white circular arena, their shadows were visible, looming up against a blank white backdrop. They seemed supernaturally proportioned — their clothes voluminous and their bodies extended. It was a literal foreshadowing of the silhouette Jacobs created this season: wide skirted and perilously tall.
The models towered on glossy patent and velvet platform boots (think "tripping down a Vivienne Westwood runway" high) that fastened up the leg to create an exaggerated spindly effect. Somehow, despite the 10-inch heels, they seemed to glide around the imposing open floor space. And the mood their movement and faces conjured — their eyes dripping with smeary black tears — could not have been more different from the semi-jubilant tone of Jacobs' spring/summer 16 collection, in which Beth Ditto sauntered down a red carpet in a glittering white gown to whoops and cheers. (Compare Lady Gaga's somber cameo this season, in dark-green fur and black lipstick.)
But the detailing of that season carried over into fall. No feather, sequin, or embroidery was left on Jacobs' studio floor; he explored every dark corner of gothica with his signature ornamental flourishes. Cartoonish black cats covered silk pussybow blouses. A giant grey-wash denim jacket dripped with coweb-like chains and witchy patches. Little sweaters in grey and black check (which called to mind mysterious Hot Topic-wearing high-schoolers), were riddled with moth holes. And Jamie Bochert's purple-and-black striped silk gown had all the villainous swoosh of Ursula the Sea Witch.
But there was also a girlishness peeking through the darkness. Felted Greek letters on oversized cardigans, striped tights, polka dots, and the occasional pop of bubblegum pink rounded out a character that felt more Gothic Lolita, Wednesday Addams, or Emily Strange than truly demonic.
That sense of sinister sweetness came to a climax in a spine-chillingly epic conclusion. Following a procession of girls wearing looming four-foot-wide mountains of skirt, came Molly Bair (already a casual six foot tall in barefeet) like a beautiful black-lipped giantess. Draped in a floor-sweeping checkered pink-and-black fur cape, her body engulfed in a mass of black taffeta, she seemed not to wear the clothes but be a part of them. She moved like a gothic queen on the white square of a giant chessboard that we were all watching, transfixed.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Umberto Fratini