Gaga as I am for Lady Gaga, I don’t make it to the Marc Jacobs party where she is scheduled to perform, even though by some miracle I have the coveted pink rubber bracelet required for admittance. But actually, I feel like I’ve been hanging out with Gaga all week — she was standing, pink-haired and sporting a little mask, with the photogs at the Jacobs show (how was she to know that Jacobs, that kilt-clad king of perversity, starts his event at 8:04, or about a half hour earlier than most shows begin?) And I was with her the night before, watching the VMAs, where she accepted an award with some kind of ketchup-colored lace snood covering her entire face, a Spiderman-inspired getup worthy of the late Leigh Bowery.
Actually, that bedeviling face cover is the second-best thing I’ve seen thus far during Fashion Week. The first is Jacobs's show itself. Despite the fact that we enter into a dazzling white space (“Why not just highlight my zits?” says one attendee of the blinding light) and it is hotter than the merry gates of hell (“It’s just like a show in Paris!” the perennially cheerful Mr. Mickey from Paper magazine opines), all is forgiven as soon as I see the parade of insanely playful Mack Sennett bathing beauties in pearl-trimmed gingham playsuits, satin bras worn over dresses, and metallic ruffled clown pants — Vivienne Westwood–meets–Zandra Rhodes, with, per usual, a huge dollop of Rei Kawakubo (Jacobs is the first to admit he rips off Comme with a vengeance, which is rather disarming). After the show, a friend says that it was really all about the handbags, since no one in their right mind would ever wear any of the clothes. He is clearly forgetting about me and Lady Gaga.
Earlier in the afternoon, I see plenty of clothes that are more than wearable — at Donna Karan, a lot of the wrapped frocks would have fit Donna even before she went on that raw-food diet. The colors are pale and pretty, and the audience of press and buyers is rosy-cheeked ad prosperous-looking, but one can’t help noticing the row of empty storefronts with huge “For Rent” signs — it is exactly one year to the day since the collapse of Lehman Brothers — looming directly across the street from Donna’s studio on Greenwich Street where the show is held.
If Lady Gaga isn’t in the audience at Yeohlee, her octogenarian equivalent, the wonderfully wacky Iris Apfel (whose nutty knack with clothes earned her a retrospective at the Met a few years ago), is in the house, dressed down in a denim jacket decorated with what look like little beaded people. Am I delirious or is that Christine Staub, model daughter of a Real Housewife of New Jersey, on the runway?
I am delirious. But wouldn’t you be, too, if you spent all day, every day, looking at beachwear when you won’t be returning to the shore for another ten months? At least Sophie Theallet, whose résumé includes impressive stints at Alaïa and Gaultier, offers exquisite ensembles for a sojourn at La Garoupe, costumes that Jean Seberg might have worn in Bonjour Tristesse (rent it!). And Band of Outsiders actually builds a fake beach in the gallery of Milk Studios, dots it with volleyball paddles, battered suitcases, a dune buggy, and even a Barcalounger, creating a tableau vivant featuring a bevy of lovelies in pedal-pushers and flowered sunsuits. Are they meant to symbolize especially good-looking Lehman Brothers staffers who have jettisoned their job searches and cast away on this strange island?