For approximately six minutes — nine, if you count the finale — Astor Hall in the New York Public Library was transformed into a fashion Brigadoon. At 7:30 p.m. sharp, Marc Jacobs staged his fall 2022 fashion show. By 7:36 p.m., all 42 looks had walked the runway before a single row of 100 guests seated on metal folding chairs. By 7:39 p.m. — poof — it was gone.
In attendance were mostly hard-core New York fashion people — Grace Coddington, Anna Wintour, Mickey Boardman, Derek Blasberg — along with Mr. Jacobs’s husband, Char Defrancesco, Emily Ratajkowski and Charlotte Groeneveld, an influencer who goes by the handle @thefashionguitar.
Christine Quinn, of the real-estate porn reality show “Selling Sunset,” was clad in a bandeau and matching leggings printed with the Marc Jacobs logo arranged in graphic black-and-white vertical repetition. The same logo treatment was plastered all over an M train that pulled up to a subway platform on the Lower East Side the other day. Then — poof — it was gone.
The scene was minimal. No street style circus. No waiting for some V.I.P. to take a seat 30 minutes late. Just a few minutes of civilized small talk among Mr. Jacobs’s tribe, who will follow their piper wherever he goes.
Set with the stoic grandeur of the library walls, a Philip Glass score and little else, Mr. Jacobs delivered an undiluted fashion experience designed to titillate the purists. The show was defined by elements of mundane, modern dress — scrubs, white men’s shirts, bright ribbed sweaters, denim — romanced into fantastical Gilded Age gothic silhouettes.
Candy-colored logo denim jackets and maxi-skirts were worn backward and forward, twisted and tied to create the impression of a bustled ball skirt. Mr. Jacobs built up exaggerated ball gown proportions in pink sequins and pastel logo cotton, then switched to oversize, graphic black and white leather work wear worn with gigantic hobo bags.
He stripped it all down into the lean, gothic minimalism of a cropped white canvas corset worn with a long, black tailored suit-skirt slit up the back. Then he whipped up classic couture shapes out of pink, purple and mint ribbed knits and sequined puffs piled on top of straight tank skirts.
In the tradition of couture, the show ended with white — a shiny pearlescent backward shirt over a long, bustled skirt topped with a dramatic head scarf/bonnet and white leather opera gloves. All of the models were shod in aggressive platform Mary Janes in black or white, and many wore dark wigs that appeared shaved into a severe, neo-goth mullet.
To the rave. To the clinic. To the ballroom. Wherever these people may go, they made the choice to go through life looking fabulous. Indeed the topical concept of “choice” was the lead to Mr. Jacobs’s collection notes.
“We share our choices in contrast to the ongoing brutality and ugliness of a world beyond our insulated but not impermeable walls.” A quotation from Nietzsche about art in the face of truth concluded the sentiments.
Mr. Jacobs had picked a Monday night in late June to show his collection, when most of fashion’s heavy hitters are in Europe at the moment when men’s fashion week bleeds into the Paris couture shows. A select audience seemed to be just the idea.
Then again, the show was livestreamed all over the Jumbotrons in Times Square. This paradox of niche and mass is one way to frame Mr. Jacobs’s methodology these days. An interview with Business of Fashion, published the morning of the show, depicted a very rosy outlook for the Marc Jacobs brand.
After years of speculation about the brand’s failing health, the new optimism is hung on straight-up merch — the Tote and Snapshot bags and an abundance of heavily logoed stuff that feels largely divorced from the heady creativity of Mr. Jacobs’s runway collections.
As of last season, the Marc Jacobs runway collection is available only at Bergdorf Goodman. “Marc is one of the most rare talents that we have,” said Linda Fargo, the store’s senior vice president for fashion and store presentation. “I don’t want to say he’s underappreciated necessarily, but in my mind he’s got a level of innovation and moves the fashion needle in the same way that Miuccia Prada does.”
After the show, security swiftly cleared everyone out of Astor Hall. Ms. Fargo stood with a handful of journalists in the backstage area hoping to hear about Mr. Jacobs’s creative choices from his own mouth. But it wasn’t an option. He had vanished, too.