Larocca: Marc Jacobs’s Japanese Cabaret

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"All the world's a stage!" said Marc Jacobs backstage at his show. "Everything's beautiful at the ballet! Life is a cabaret!" And that was it — he'd run out of melodramatic clichés, so he posed for a couple of photographs between Madonna and Lady Gaga, two women who know exactly what he means.

But his explanation for tonight's collection only told part of the story. (What Marc Jacobs show, after all, is not in large part about the theater?) This season, the references came fast and furious: the models with their chalky, kabuki makeup and flat-platform soled slides, the clothes with their layers of ruffles and decoration and explorations into what goes under and over (satin bras went over little knits) and playful approach to proportions drew clearly from Japans of many eras. There were touches of the geisha (that makeup, those shoes), of Manga (those tight little buns), yet the greatest influence was that of Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons.

But Marc is never one to be literal, so there was as much of himself in the designs as anything else: that deft way of layering clothes and references and styles without ever feeling heavy, for one thing, and then a few signature Marc moves, like prairie skirts and plaids that were a sly nod to his grunge roots. The final dress all but levitated off the body in a feat of tailoring and romanticism — it was totally original, and it was breathtaking.

The people lined up on Bleecker Street to shop Marc's version of a penny store are not going to be wearing these gigantic harem pants, but they will continue to line up because of them. Marc is, once again, playing the lead.

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