Before the latest collection by Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier for the Marc by Marc Jacobs (aka MBMJ) brand got underway on Tuesday, it was hard not to spot the myriad of audience members (both men and women) who were wearing pieces from the duo’s last show. It was the clearest sort of validation that the house has hit a fashion nerve and is heading in the right direction.
However, this season that route took the brand into territory that felt as if it had already been well documented by one of fashion’s most adventurous designers- Rei Kawakubo.
Now, it is a well-known fact that Marc Jacobs is a long-standing admirer of Kawakubo’s avant-garde work at Comme des Garçons, so it is understandable that a line named after him would take inspiration from her artistry. What Bartley and Hillier did with this collection was to expand on some of Kawakubo's concepts so that they could exist on a larger scale in the real world.
So models, their hair built into topknot mohawks and their limbs covered in latex, came out in polka dot skirts, jackets and tops- but crafted from plastic. The designers cut their full trousers and asymmetrical skirts to gather at the waistline in a way that was arty, but not cumbersome. And complex dresses were spliced-together amalgamations of different design concepts. Think hybrids of pleats, prints, and polka dots patched together onto sweat shirts, plastics, cotton t-shirts and silk.
Those energetic dresses were particularly impressive. As busy and dramatic as they were they also read wearable. It was quite a feat with so many sartorial moving parts for the duo to keep under control.
One can count on the less dramatic pieces in the show also finding their own devotees. In particular, the t-shirts and dresses with their central images gathered at the chest in a fan pleat to alter the message which will be the garments that will pop up at the show next season.