Marc Jacobs Fall 2011: Couture-Inspired Silhouettes, Rendered in Synthetics

Ever the master of Fashion Week pageantry, Marc Jacobs completely altered the Lexington Avenue Armory into what looked like a sci-fi set out of a James Bond movie (or maybe 2001: A Space Odyssey?). The entire set -- from runway to tiered seating -- was completely coated with a reflective vinyl surface that gave the space the feeling of a massive mirror, topped off with a series of padded columns on the runway. (Needless to say, it was as bit tough to find the corners of one's seat.) The front row included the typical eclectic mix of celebrities: Leighton Meester, Fergie and Josh Duhamel, Sofia Coppola, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Once the music came up -- Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" -- and the models started advancing down the runway as quickly as they could in what were clearly quite restrictive pencil skirts, the room took on a serious aggressive tone.

Backstage, Jacobs told Cathy Horyn of The New York Times that he was interested in "discipline" this season, and the collection certainly felt like an exercise in control: The prevailing silhouette felt couture-like with a '40s influence -- ultra-slim pencil skirts, nipped-in waists, some peplum jackets. The models wore tight chin straps topped with small, perfectly-perched berets. Even the polka dots, which appeared everywhere from fabrics to little cabochon studs, felt less playful than methodical in their placement on a garment.

Whereas the past two seasons' collections from Marc Jacobs have felt romantic or nostalgic, this line feels more high-concept. Jacobs may have used retro, tailored silhouettes, but his choice of materials was almost futuristic: rubber sequins, vinyl berets, cellophane blouses, fake crocodile skirts, rubberized leather snow boots. The series of colored lace dresses and embroidered jacquard pieces toward the end of the collection were really the only more traditional materials on the runway, and will likely be the most favored in terms of wearability. Jacobs is one of the best designers in terms of finding a way to merge retail with high-fashion, so there are separates here that will likely
become It-items for more than a few fashion fans -- the rubber sequin skirts and polka-dot separates come to mind -- even if the collection overall felt at times out of reach.

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