New York Fashion Week’s Haunted Ending


Exaggerated lacy vinyl skirts bloomed around bony hips, and oily, iridescent feathers bristled at the neck. Silhouettes were as attenuated as a pen and ink drawing or drowned in enormous volumes; glittering rats chased their tails around Victorian coats; phantom hands reached across taffeta gowns; satin cracked from side to side.

Imagine Edward Gorey meets the Lady of Shalott, and you’ll get an idea of Marc Jacobs, fall 2016.

The fall shows began in the brawling aftermath of the New Hampshire primary and ended in the shadow of the South Carolina Republican primary and the Nevada Democratic caucus. The national dialogue has taken a turn for the macabre. Mr. Jacobs just designed for it. And brilliantly.
There’s a vacuum at the core of New York fashion. It’s hard to decide what defines the city’s aesthetic: politics or art or fantasy or business or what; a little bit of everything that adds up to no cohesion at all. There is a lot of talk of generational shift (it’s a trend, and the collections are an echo chamber), but the ground is still moving.

Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are brands that once crystallized the American aesthetic (a.k.a. sportswear) for the external world. The former still does, to a certain extent, though at a time when actual sportswear has infiltrated wardrobes writ large, that term no longer means what it once did. Mr. Lauren, however, has not revised his interpretation. He’s grooving in the comfort zone he established decades ago.