London - Marc Jacobs is to re-issue his infamous 90s grunge collection he designed for Perry Ellis. Available for resort 2019, the story of Jacobs designing a collection based on Seattle's burgeoning grunge scene is a pinnacle in the history of fashion.
In the early nineties Jacobs was creative director of Perry Ellis and for the brand's fall 1992 collection debuted a look which at the time reflected the success of underground bands such as Nirvana. The clothes were considered highly controversial in contrast to the upmarket American sportswear vibe Perry Ellis wanted to convey. Think beanie hats, mickey mouse t-shirts under blazers, flannel shirts, granny dresses with combat boots and deconstructed utility references.
The show, which featured the original supermodels cast, caused an unprecedented backlash and was panned by fashion critics including Suzy Menkes, who called grunge 'ghastly' and then Washington Post editor Cathy Horyn, who retracted her statement 12 years later having been a leading voice amid a 'miserable chorus of condemners.' The negative press subsequently led to Jacobs being fired.
Jacobs translated culture references to clothes that were desirable
The rest, as they say, is history. The show proved Jacobs' canny ability to translate the cultural zeitgeist into fashion that was relevant, wearable and most importantly, cool. It was youth-reflected, edgy and more importantly it got everyone's attention. Jacobs' being fired proved to be the start of a stellar career path that saw him take the helm of Louis Vuitton, the crown job in luxury fashion, just a few years later.
In 2013 Jacobs exited Louis Vuitton after a 16-hear tenure, which had seen troubles at his own label when all the focus had gone to LVMH. Fast forward to 2018 and the house of Marc Jacobs has seen waning successes: battling sliding profits, a coming and going of management, a messy restructuring of the business which included appointing new creative directors for Marc by Marc Jacobs, then folding the diffusion brand into the mainline a short time later, closing stores and mounting financial pressures.
But perhaps Jacobs' grunge collection will bring about a change and renewed focus to the Marc Jacobs brand, as dit Donatella Versace's tribute collection for Versace's SS18 mainline. It returned a sense of relevance to the house not seen since the heyday of it founder, Gianni Versace.
Jacobs, of course, set the tone for deconstructed sportswear and spurned a thousand copies since that show in November 1992. Back in the day The New York Times wrote of his collection: “A typical outfit looks as if it were put together with the eyes closed in a very dark room.'” We wonder what would have been written of today's collections by Balenciaga or Vetements? Editors these days are much less acid-tongued, especially when it comes to securing advertising dollars for the shows they review.
Photo credit: Marc Jacobs Fall 18 campaign, source Marc Jacobs website