Feb 17, 2009
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A rebellious Marc Jacobs smirks at economic crisis

Feb 17, 2009

NEW YORK, Feb 17, 2009 (AFP) - American designer Marc Jacobs late Monday poked fun at the economic crisis with extravagance and irony, unveiling in New York a fall 2009 collection where retro meets futurism.

Models display creations by Marc Jacobs during his 2009 Fall Show at the New York State Armory - Photo : Timothy A. Clary/AFP

While the city's fashionistas thronged the catwalk to watch ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, the wife of football star David Beckham, or singer Justin Timberlake and his ready-to-wear line, Louis Vuitton's artistic director gathered a smaller crowd where professionals outnumbered celebrities.

Casting off the grim mood of the times, the cult designer showed off 60 models -- more than double the average 25 at this year's toned down "Fashion Week" -- to a more exclusive crowd of 700 (down from the usual 2,000) at the stately 69th Regiment Armory in southern Manhattan.

Far from the wobbly tents in Bryant Park where most of the fashion shows are taking place, Jacobs discarded the podium, instead following the models with lightbeams.

Exquisite figures with darkened eyes, wispy hair buns 30 centimeters (12 inches) high and perched atop studded ankle boots showed off the 40-year-old New Yorker's unbridled imagination.

Among his latest creations: golden crushed velvet mini-skirts, pants decked out with a pleated piece of kilt in the rear and slinky pink fuschia dresses assorted with green and pink tights and silk scarves.

Jacobs here plays up asymmetry. Everything is short, zippers are used as removable belts on thick satin dresses in tangy green, pink, blue or yellow. The pink fuschia hooded coat gives way to vests and brocades in lame, but still mixing purple and blue, green and pink, with lemon yellow rounding off the collection.

Very feminine and very sexy, his outfits sometimes take cues from fantasy film vixen Barbarella or offer a fresh look at retro.

While many of the designers this season seem to have given up on accessories, the key to top brands' fortunes, Marc Jacobs always has a whole set of irresistible handbags. He did not deprive himself Monday, with purple, green or mauve padded pouches on display.

While some commentators have criticized the imposing build of some dresses -- although the large Thierry Mugler-like shoulders of the 1980s are back -- New York fashion's favorite enfant terrible nonetheless received an extended round of applause when he appeared briefly in a black pleated skirt and white blouse.

Fashion Week, which opened last Friday, is one of four major bi-annual fashion gatherings and presents about a dozen fashion shows per day.

But the economic crisis has reared its head, and many buyers of the major luxury distribution circuits were absent, including the Russians, who have left their usual front-row seats empty.

With the ongoing crisis threatening a shift to frugality in the United States and elsewhere, many designers have favored gatherings in their studios but admit suffering from the resulting lack of visibility.by Paola Messana

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