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Mr. Subversive

From his perch atop the fashion world, Marc Jacobs sends up the very notion of a runway show. Just imagine the uproar if he'd started -- gasp -- on time.

September 16, 2007|Booth Moore | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The Marc Jacobs show is always the hottest ticket of the week, and it's always a nightmare. I vowed never to complain about the lateness of a fashion show, because plenty of people would stand in line all night for the chance to see one. But two hours has to be some kind of record. And having the clothes still being sewn backstage after the scheduled 9 p.m. start time was outrageous, even if, in the end, it did seem oddly appropriate for a show that thumbed its nose at the fashion establishment.

The worst thing about all the drama is that it clouded a collection that actually had a lot to say about surface beauty and our obsession with glossy perfection. When the show started in reverse with Jacobs taking his bow, it was the first sign that this was going to be a Surrealist manifesto, a send-up of the whole fashion and luxury machine.

The models wore their hair teased, "Grey Gardens" teased, along with ugly duckling glasses. "Two-thirds of a gown," the show notes read, "too-small sandals."

The clothes were deconstructed, suggesting a return to the 1990s anti-fashion trend. A gown that looked as if it were made of Silly String had a satin bra and panties incorporated into it; silk pajama bottoms were screened with trompe l'oeil panties on top. A red silk shirtdress was open on the sides revealing a black slip, while a prune sequined column gown was backless except for a bra strap.

Surely Jacobs also was poking fun at himself, the high priest of luxury at Louis Vuitton, when he showed a caricature of his double-bag design from the French luxury goods brand. The big puffy bag has a second smaller bag attached to it -- not one but two "It" bags!

The show was quirky, ridiculous and fascinating at the same time, and one was left pondering if what's on the outside has become too important. But given Jacobs' track record, if he was really going to turn fashion on its head, shouldn't he have thrown everyone off-kilter by starting his show on time?

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