Fashion Week

Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 Won New York Fashion Week With a Full-On Performance

The clothes were more minimal than seasons past, but a dance-based artistic vision kept the production value as high as ever.
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All photos courtesy of Marc Jacobs

Everyone has felt the general pessimism surrounding New York Fashion Week over the past few years. Every season, it seems many of the city's most exciting talents leave to show in Europe (this season: Jeremy Scott), skip out on a show (Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Ralph Lauren), and choose to create special moments elsewhere (Tom Ford's Oscars-weekend LA show and Tommy Hilfiger's upcoming London experience). Even when we do have celebrated creativity (Christopher John Rogers, for instance), many fear that in the end, their bright spark will lead them internationally, leaving New York searching for its next star once again. But without fail, Marc Jacobs closes each season with a reassurance that fashion in New York is alive and well, and history tells us some of these rising talents will be here to stay.

For Fall 2020, Jacobs found yet another way to transform the Park Avenue Armory. Like last season, he left much of the massive space open and seated editors in a cluster of chairs in one section of the room (this time, around café tables). This may have been a small hint that it wasn't your standard runway experience of watching one look at a time—last time, models all walked towards the audience at once before continuing to parade around and let guests get a closer look at each maximalist ensemble. But this season, Jacobs, who has been creating a wildly fantastical brand of borderline couture as of late, went a bit more understated with the clothing itself while upping the performance factor. 

Jacobs' chosen performance medium to showcase his fall collection was dance, but in a refreshing take, it wasn't about showcasing ballet flats and tulle. Instead, the designer enlisted renowned choreographer Karole Armitage to craft an entrancing contemporary performance that walked (or, rather, danced) the line between artistry and the everyday. Around 50 dancers joined the 88 models, truly filling the space to provide movement and substance in whichever direction you looked. Deconstructing familiar gestures to engage in a deeper meditation on the complexities of life itself, it's exactly the kind of choreography that has long thrived in New York, and it only reached a new level alongside the latest creations from one of the most celebrated creative directors in the city.

The dance and fashion components fed off each other and crafted an experience that truly embodied the Fall 2020 show title, Chaos + Form. Jacobs went for simple, timeless shapes with this season's clothing, with highlights including monochrome ensembles, expertly tailored coats, and nostalgic yet modern eveningwear. There absolutely were maximalist flourishes here and there—some animal print, a fantastical rose headpiece, a Miley Cyrus cameo—but the eclectic collection kept a wearable cohesion that stunned attendees in its expertise.

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Not to be excluded from the performers, each model had a character—for example, Fran Summers' was "She's done her eyeliner in the back seat of a car on the way to the Academy Awards." (A note to Marc that we'd be dying to see the full list of these to learn the hyper-specific story behind each look.) After all the individual moments, including Bella Hadid's old Hollywood glamour and Kaia Gerber's luxurious yellow outerwear, had unfolded, there was a unified section of choreography before the high-fashion cast made their way into a single line across the space. Yes, there may have been some chaos as models walked by dancers in the middle of a complex phrase, but it all fit together nicely and felt evocatively close to the busy yet inspiring experience of living in New York in the 21st century.

See all the looks from Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 in the gallery below.

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