Marc Jacobs ends NYFW on high note

London - I first met Marc Jacobs in New York in 2003. We were introduced in a lift in his office building downtown. I remember it vividly because he was sporting a neck brace and awkwardly turned sideways to say hello. I was in New York to attend his Spring 2004 show as part of the team that launched his then younger label Marc by Marc Jacobs in Europe.

Back then, a Marc Jacobs show was the hottest ticket at New York Fashion Week. The perfect mix of downtown cool and uptown glamour, his collections epitomized American fashion. It didn’t hurt to have those striking runway sets, celebrity front rows and decadent after-show parties. But still, if you walked into his Bleecker Street store, you rarely left without a purchase.

Marc Jacobs, the brand, had lost its way

But as quintessential as Marc Jacobs was to New York fashion, the brand lost its footing, if not its ‘je ne sais quoi’ in recent years. When Jacobs departed Louis Vuitton in 2013 he was faced with a namesake brand that had largely been left to its own devices. The sales figures didn’t lie. Two years later, in 2015, parent company LVMH announced the closure of the Marc by Marc Jacobs brand, which a decade earlier had not only thrived, but had all the potential to be a global powerhouse of a brand.

Marc Jacobs ends NYFW on high note

But no point dwelling on what could have been or should have been. Letting bygones be bygones, Jacobs this week proved he is still a master of New York Fashion Week. Not only to open his doors to make way for younger talent - he supported Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi to put on a show in the basement of his Madison Avenue boutique - but also proved he is equally deserving of the NYFW spotlight.

Jacobs has always played with proportion, and in recent seasons proposed hyper silhouettes which looked terrific on the catwalk, but would never end up as a wardrobe staple. The grand shapes were back for AW19, but this time there was equanimity between oversized and wearability, a balance of fashion and extremes, playfulness without theatre.

Held in a pitch-black Park Avenue Armory, the show was intimate with a single spotlight highlighting the first look on the catwalk, a leopard print coat shouldered over a pussy-bow blouse worn under a wide striped trouser suit. The outerwear stole the show in the first six looks, before an emerald turtle neck shift dress changed the tone. An exaggerated A-line silhouette dominated most propositions, but as they became more elegant and eleborate toward the end, the final look a feather black swan worn by Christy Turlington, they brought to mind the Marc Jacobs of yore, a master of New York Fashion Week.

Photo credit: Marc Jacobs Fall 19 Finale, source Marc Jacobs; Christy Turlington, Catwalkpictures