Marc Jacobs Just Staged the First Post-Instagram Fashion Show

I didn’t attend last night’s Marc Jacobs show, but I figured that was pas de problème: you can find all the runway photos you need on Instagram, after all! But on Wednesday night, Jacobs, who has been staging his shows as pseudo-performances over the past several seasons in the Park Avenue Armory, did something truly bizarre, and extremely special. To open the show, a group of models walked onto the runway—really, an undefined space hieroglyphed with movement tape—and split in three different directions. And then, under the direction of choreographer Karole Armitage, who herself danced in the show, a whole cast of dancers twisted, bent over, and even ran back and forth between the models, themselves walking in an increasingly chaotic, clipped orchestration. Where were you even supposed to look? And how were the attendees even supposed to capture the key looks?! It was a performance, but there was no spectacle—no single vision to anchor the eye and cow-and-wow you into snapping the same image as everyone else.

In other words, the show completely defied Instagram.

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Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear, New York, February 12, 2020.Victor Virgile / Getty Images

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Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear, New York, February 12, 2020.Victor Virgile / Getty Images

Look at the runway photographs, and you will find yourself just as frustrated (and totally delighted). Coats were hanging off the shoulders, not as a purposefully sensual gesture but because life—movement!—gets in the way of looking immaculate. The images themselves are a real jumble, because a number of models walked in groups—a throwback to an earlier moment, when Yves Saint Laurent, for example, might want to demonstrate the beautiful harmony of his Moroccan extravaganza, or Giorgio Armani wanted to show off the different colorways of an evening suit. Designers stopped doing this years ago, because it prevents the manicured, standardized view necessary for maximum show virality. To make the expense of a fashion show worth it, you need a zillion eyes on your clean and clear image of Bella Hadid in your craziest look. (Of course, Jacobs is a smart guy, so he made sure to orchestrate a clean and clear enough image of Bella Hadid in the craziest look.) But there’s really none of that now-standard uniformity to the Jacobs photos you’ll find online.

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Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear, New York, February 12, 2020.Victor Virgile / Getty Images

Jacobs is one of fashion’s great nostalgists—he was paying homage to Christian Lacroix when everyone (including him) was wearing Balenciaga Triple S shoes, and even this collection was packed with references to contemporary collections, from Prada to Valentino couture. A lot of designers have been pawing at this golden time lately—from the models carrying look numbers at Vaquera, as if Reynolds Woodcock was doing a capsule for Dover Street Market, to Balenciaga’s decision to relaunch a couture business that shuttered when the house’s founder closed the business in 1968. If you look at photographs of any fashion show before, say, 2000, Jacobs is conjuring this photographic style of inconsistent views and even messy images. The images of early Margiela shows, or early Prada, or even early Marc Jacobs, will exasperate you. The full look is rarely captured, and photographers are coming at the runway from whatever angle they can. It reminds you that you really used to have to be in the room, literally, to know about fashion—and that fashion once privileged the people in that room, cared what they thought and how they reacted, before anyone else. It’s totally snobby, obviously, but it’s a kind of mutual respect, too.


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