Prejudice, misogyny, racism – these are all topics that fashion has taken a stance on in the past. Over the decades, some of the industry’s most innovative designers have turned their collections into platforms for politics. Rei Kawakubo uses Comme des Garçons to churn out politically charged messages (Remember 1981’s ‘Hiroshima Chic’ show?), Alexander McQueen never backed down from a chance to confront, with shocking collections like ‘Highland Rape’ employed to discuss Scotland’s tortured past, and Vivienne Westwood is never not on a soapbox. But in recent years, high-profile designers who have been paying lip service to cultural matters have been shying away from making a concrete stance one way or the other. For instance, Chanel’s recent feminist “fauxtest” said nothing of substance, but at least it looked really chic.
It happened again for Fall/Winter 2015 at Marc by Marc Jacobs, where new head designers Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier scrawled political slogans across the clothes, but denied a concrete message, arguing that they were inspired by youth culture. Call us crazy, but the girl that actually buys an MBMJ color-blocked dress covered in words like “Suffragette,” “Choice,” “Our Future”, and “Solidarity” probably means to convey some sort of political message when she wears it. So, why can’t these designers back their work? If they don’t mean it, then doesn’t it just mean it’s all a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing? There’s no passion to using vague buzzwords as a selling point (and a weak selling point at that).
Maybe this is why Marc Jacobs himself has reiterated time and again to the press that fashion and politics don’t mix. So, let’s look at the Fall/Winter 2015 collection through an apolitical lens instead. Bartley and Hillier worked with an elongated silhouette, abstract prints, and maximal plaid patterns to create a kind of nouveau-rebel prototype. With grommeted berets and throat-wrapping scarves, they’re channeling a Cuba-circa-1960s look, but this was contrasted by baggy tapestry prints and oversized coordinated separates. There were a few gorgeous pieces that emerged on the runway – we’ll gladly take a shot at the smooth utility maxi skirt Kendall Jenner wore, but a definite pass on the denim zippered look that preceded it. The saving grace of the collection was the sweet teacup frocks and cutaway coats that closed the show. They were downright demure, and managed to be both youthful and ladylike at the same time. However, we have a feeling that accessories will be the top sellers from this presentation, with bondage boots, mini leather fanny packs, and flat-footed brogues emerging as some of the more hip and accessible pieces.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree