Marc Jacobs Fall Winter 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

In many ways it was a classic Marc Jacobs kind of evening. He served a collection with a big point of view, a bombastic production, a little show tunes sensibility sprinkling, maniacal styling and a hodgepodge of themes and ideas that never get so tangled up that you can’t discern one element from the other. And only in a Marc Jacobs world is the showmanship itself as equally valuable as the masterly array of clothes he’s so used to shelling out. This was no exception.

Just like his fall show from a year ago, this outing felt like Jacobs breathing new life into old tricks. The most direct analogue to his archives has to be his sensational Fall ’09 collection, better known to some as ‘Mary Poppins and Little House on the Prairie go to Gay Paris’ – a show saturated in color and layering, just like this one. Today’s show proves why Jacobs is America’s crown prince of fashion – underneath the candy-wrapping are all the essential pieces that make up a well edited wardrobe. His collections beg to be picked apart.

Jacobs worked alongside long-time friend Rachel Feinstein to transform the Lexington Armory into a vast dilapidated framework of an old ruined castle; imagine the cavity of Mrs. Havisham’s mausoleum centuries after total abandonment. Dickens also figured in other places – the soundtrack consisted of three versions of “Who Will Buy?” from Oliver! The clothes hinted at the Victorian, but it was all pomp here. These street urchins definitely don’t wander under the gloomy and polluted London skies of yore. In fact, they’re corbels of whimsy, propping droopy and seemingly unstructured mink hats, courtesy of the genius milliner Stephen Jones once again, in bright colors and assorted patterns that could rival Dr. Seuss’ most psychedelic creations. Some saw Alice in Wonderland’s the Mad Hatter, others thought of Strawberry Shortcake. To me they looked like a new flora – a new race of garden gnomes that double as toadstools.

To go with the anything-but-bodycon bells skirts in lame’ (other skirts came in glittering paisleys on jacquard), thick wool stoles affixed to tinsel-embellished coats by skewed, oversized safety-pins, were the inversely penitent Pilgrim shoes with chunky, adorned buckles (You know, just in case haute Victorian pauper wasn’t enough of a message for the day, Jacobs poked a bit of fun at the tenets of American religious rigidity for good measure).

It’s interesting to find Jacobs in such a great form after last season’s slight hiccup. Back then he had Dior preoccupations and monetary negotiations with LVMH to attend to. Now that Jacobs has officially stepped out of the running, he puts something together that any long-time Dior via Galliano fan would absolutely kill for or faun over. After seeing this line-up, they’re probably kicking themselves, hating themselves and ruing the day they decided to not pony up the dough.