Truth be told, I’m still feeling a little trippy after the Marc Jacobs Experience, otherwise known as his spring 2015 show. There we were, in the Uptown Park Avenue Armory, in the cavernous Drill Hall, recently transformed into the moody moors of Cawdor for Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh’s visceral production of Macbeth, and into an austere backdrop for Robert Wilson’s staging of Marina Abramović’s “funeral” (The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, happily starring the very much alive durational artist).
Marc, however, had an altogether rosier vision for the space, landing a Pepto-Bismol pink suburban house right in its heart, lapped by Schiaparelli pink gravel and flanked by tiered seating wrapped in Barbie pink shag-pile carpeting. “He loves The Wizard of Oz,” explained set design supremo Stefan Beckman moments before the show, “as though the house was just dropped into the middle of the Armory—like an art project. And he’s really into happy, bright, optimistic color!” Really?
The collection, as it happens, turned out to be anything but colorful, running the armed forces’ gamut from khaki to camouflage green, dashed with navy blue, and all the nuances of desert fatigues. That militaristic theme played out in the clothes themselves, with flak and combat jackets and fatigue pants and backpacks. We certainly live in belligerent times, but Marc staged his own gentle antiwar statement by subverting all those uniform sartorial tropes into clothes that were perky, with little pouf skirts and paper-doll sixties shifts embellished with cartoonishly overscale pockets and collars.
The experience, it should be noted, was thoroughly impressive. Each guest found a Beats by Dre headset at their seat, so you watched the show in your own little private world, the melodic soundtrack, acting as a background to a mellifluous voice intoning thoughts composed by Marc and his collaborators that seemed like a director’s instructions. “When she goes in, the dog starts to bark. No, not that kind of dog . . . one that sounds like cheap electronic hip-hop from the eighties,” the actor might intone, or “Can we move the house to a place where nothing ever happens and things are slower? I’ll be happy there . . .” But the voice, as it turns out, was not that of a flesh-and-blood actor at all; the words were processed by a computer. As I said, trippy.