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NEW YORK, September 8, 2008
By Nicole PhelpsMary Poppins goes to Dubai. The King and I meets The Postman Always Rings Twice. Yves Saint Laurent's Ballets Russes collection redux. There are as many meanings to derive from a Marc Jacobs collection as there are crashers at his shows. But listen to the litany that Jacobs himself provided after all 53 of his Spring looks—each one more colorful, more multilayered, and more zanily accessorized than the last—had circled his Stefan Beckman-designed Hall of Mirrors runway: "America, womanly, Broadway, Perry Ellis, country, naïveté…"
It was a mash-up to end all mash-ups, and as an American in Paris—that was Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" cleverly playing on the soundtrack—Jacobs is better situated than most to deliver it. He's developed an expat's eye, and could it be that he actually misses the States? In any case, he sees a certain beauty here. Take the fourth look: There was the prairie skirt provocatively bustled turn-of-the-century style, a gingham shirt, a Lurex-shot plaid sash that winked at both the frontier West and his own grunge collection for Perry Ellis, a metallic tweed motorcycle jacket, and, for accessories—ka-ching—a crushed-straw hat, a chunky necklace, and a quilted chain-link bag. Athletic references appeared elsewhere in the form of wide stripes on a pair of sundresses and Lurex-ribbed knit sweaters with baseball jersey-style contrasting sleeves. And mixed in among all the electric colors and the shiny bits were peaked-shouldered black jackets and vests worn with wide-leg trousers cropped below the knee.
This season, nothing escaped Jacobs' roving eye or his melting-pot mentality. And in his hands even a thing like a farm-girl apron gets tweaked and reinterpreted until, impossibly, it becomes the very definition of contemporary chic. "It's about the joy of dressing up," he finally said backstage. And how.