What the Dickens? It is impossible to crack the inner workings of Marc Jacobs’ mind at the best of times, let alone when you’ve just witnessed a show that makes the hairs on the back of your neck tingle and renders you speechless. This was Jacobs on his finest form, make no mistake, but where did it all come from and what was it all about
Oliver Twist? The Artful Dodger? Nancy? Fagin? A delicious pile-up of textures? The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, thrown in for good measure with the biggest fur hats you’ve ever seen in your life? Were the crochet shawls meant to look like as if they had been knitted by the giants of Brobdingnag? What were those cartoonish proportions? Why Eighteenth century crystal buckle shoes? Was it costume? Was it clothes?
So the set - a huge white silhouette, like a paper cutout, an illustration from a children’s book, with arches and trees and steps, rose up as the backdrop – was it a clue, this inviting winter wonderland? It was designed by his friend, the artist Rachel Feinstein. ‘We talked about Conservatism in America, Gloria Vanderbilt…’ he said backstage by way of explanation – or not. In fact, he had to shout behind the scenes, what with all the celebrities coming to kiss him and the jostling throng of eager-to-understand journalists. ‘But basically, Rachel’s a great friend, a great artist and fearless. I said, [to Feinstein] “Well, make it like you, because that’s what inspires me”.’
So, Marc, why big hats? ‘Because instead of a fur coat, I thought they should just wear it on their heads this season instead,’ he said.
Why the shoes? ‘Well, pilgrims… and I just couldn’t resist.’
Why Oliver? ‘I love Oliver… I love Cat In The Hat.’
So, what kind of fantasy was it? ‘Fantasy?’ he smirked, ‘This is my reality!’
It was certainly a treat to see Jacobs’ creative vision at full pelt. From the very first outfit - a sombre purple frock-coat, black shawl, huge mink hat, buckled shoes and sparkly socks – to the incredible tapestry of ever more affluent looking outfits, it was a visual feast. A rich pink glistening dress, the softest grey lurex long paisley skirt that stood dramatically away from the body or the deceptively plain black patchworked silk pinafores worn over crisp white shirts – it was all magic. The bigger the hat – and boy, they were big – the more photo-worthy the outfit.
Of course, if you take it all apart, there were great things to buy, particularly in the coat and jacket department and those exotically textiled skirts. But to wear it as an ensemble? And not be mistaken for Dodger, or worse, Mr Bumble?
The question, I suppose, is, like the Oliver Twist song that played over and over, ‘Who Will Buy?’ Personally? ‘I’ll Do Anything’…for one of those gigantic fur hats.