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If nothing else, Olympus Fashion Week, fall/winter 2005 will be remembered as the season of 'The Great Debate' thanks to Marc Jacobs' highly controversial collection (which by the way, started 90 minutes late, further irking many attendees who have made peace with waiting the requisite hour). Once again, arguably one of the world's most influential designers, and always an editor's favorite, Marc finds himself (happily) in the eye of the storm.

He has admitted he loves invoking such discussion and thought. 12 years after his controversial and infamous grunge collection, (which marked his debut as the head designer for Perry Ellis), he did a complete turnaround from this past spring (which is something he is known to do) and instead of the optimistic, joyful, fitted, colorful, happy clothes he had a love affair with, has now tapped into a decidedly deeper and darker side that was admittedly inspired by intellectual innovators like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, with a touch of Romeo Gigli thrown in. He also said he was very inspired by the 80's minimalistic style of some well respected fashion icons (like legendary Milanese retailer Carla Sozzani).

The result was a predominantly somber shaded collection, marked by what seemed to be an inordinate amount of very long, somewhat shapeless clothes, (a host of skirts that were full and sometimes padded for exaggeration, roomy coats, boxy jackets), further accessorized with thick black opaque tights and an almost flat shoe. Hardly the most flattering of proportions- even on his tall, skinny, young and gorgeous models. But having said that- though Marc made a statement with his newfound aesthetic, how can a designer be faulted for experimenting and pushing the envelope? Plus, it was hardly the only story on his runway (and it never is).

Actually, Marc seems to be somewhat contradictory, if not bi-polar this season, because mixed in with the difficult to wear, grandiose statements were some wearable, unexaggerated, and un-costumey items as well: beautiful, draped, narrow jewel toned evening dresses (with black sheer tulle overlays), almost perky above the knee party dresses in strong shades like purple, with ruched, petal like skirts; ebulliently large scaled floral gowns with very full skirts; some beautifully crafted and simply chic black gowns; a group of immensely wearable gray and black striped knits that called to mind Sonia Rykiel; and some of the best pleated skirts and knitted ensembles around.

And Marc didn't completely forego his trademark and signature pieces, like the off white shrunken military jacket with brass buttons, worn over skinny ankle length wool pants, yes, SKINNY- it was not ALLl clothing for the times his customer gains weight, or finds herself in a 'family way'; or the wonderful gray cashmere cardigan edged in plum and shown over self striped wool narrow trousers and a gold satin shirt. He used oversized gold chains to add a bit of interest to an otherwise simple and dark hued cashmere sweater and full satin midcalf skirt, and paraded out his always outstanding coats (like the full skirted midcalf black velvet belted trench with tulle collar worn over a quilted- hemmed long gold satin skirt, or the vintage inspired  mink coat done in strips of brown, black, and beige (I think I already own that coat) belted at the waist with a thick black satin bow and shown over a full evening gown.

The way I see it, Marc offered just another option- another view and another way for us to look at our own wardrobes. He also challenged the idea of glamour, elegance and chic. Does it always have to mean high-heeled shoes and a fitted dress? I think not.


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