Fashion Month, that four-week extravaganza of shows, celebrities and clothes that has become a perfect vehicle of bite-size entertainment for our attention-fractured time, officially begins in New York on Friday before rolling out to London, Milan and Paris. In reality, however, it started a full week earlier, thanks to Marc Jacobs, who like many designers, stepped off the formal schedule during Covid but, unlike many, never looked back.
If his amuse-bouche of a collection is any sign of what is to come — and part of what makes Mr. Jacobs such an effective designer is his ability to hold a finger up to the wind and then capture that in clothes — we will be in for a banger of a season.
Anchoring one end of Mr. Jacobs’s runway was the Robert Therrien installation “No title (folding table and chairs, beige),” which features supersize metal furniture straight from a generic workplace (actually the Buffalo AKG Art Museum). That proved the frame for a parade of models in exaggerated midcentury bouffants and even more exaggerated skirt and short suits. The clothes were entirely out of proportion to the body, so the models looked like little girls who had raided their mothers’ closets. Or paper dolls.
Actual waists seemed to swim within waists, and jackets tented out at the back. Sweaters were knit with the shoulders inset oddly close to the neck, jerking the arms forward. Peplums started just under the breasts, abbreviating the torso, but shoes were gigantic platforms, so the legs looked endlessly long. Bags were supersize. Evening dresses gleamed with the light of hundreds of mirrored discs.
It was a meta-commentary about the disorientation of getting dressed, the debate over the return to office and the end of comfort clothes — all issues other designers may be wrestling with this season.
What else should you look out for?
Some Notable Debuts
There are three major designer debuts this season. First up is Adrian Appiolaza at Moschino in Milan. Mr. Appiolaza, who most recently was design director under Jonathan Anderson at Loewe and has stints at Chloé, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton on his résumé — has the unenviable task of stepping into the shoes of Davide Renne, who died unexpectedly only nine days after assuming the creative director post.
Increasing the stakes even more: Mr. Appiolaza, who has a Franco-Moschino-like mustache and a lot of colorful body ink, was only named to the post this month. Moschino is known for using clothes as ironic commentary on the issues of the day, but that’s no joke.
Next, in Paris, Chemena Kamali will unveil her vision of the Chloé girl. Given that she has already done two stints at the house — one under Phoebe Philo and one under Clare Waight Keller — she knows its history inside out, and judging by her teaser ad campaign, we can expect a return to 1970s-style coolness.
Finally, on March 2, the world will see Seán McGirr’s take on Alexander McQueen. Mr. McGirr is following in the footsteps of Sarah Burton, Mr. McQueen’s longtime No. 2, who was beloved for her talent and for keeping the brand going after its founder’s death. That makes Mr. McGirr the first real outside designer to take on the McQueen legacy. Kering, McQueen’s parent company, is looking for a jump-start after the momentum at Balenciaga stalled during that brand’s social media scandal and the Gucci reset proved slower than hoped. No pressure.
A Few Major Returns
Mr. Jacobs may be off the schedule, but other designers are returning like flies. First up, Thom Browne, one of fashion’s greatest showmen and the chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is coming back to close out the New York collections. Marni is back in Milan after a three-season world tour in which the designer Francesco Risso took his shows to New York, Tokyo and Paris. And in Paris, Marine Serre, Off-White and Vetements are once again in the fold, bringing that calendar to a whopping 71 shows. Despite all the complaints about the system, no one, it seems, can think of a more effective alternative.
In runway-adjacent news, Donna Karan, a brand that has been dormant since its founder left in 2015, is about to be back on shelves — under the aegis of G-III Apparel Group and at a contemporary price point (nothing more expensive than $599). Ms. Karan herself is no longer involved with the label, and rather than create a new collection, the design team has gone into the archives and remade some of the iconic looks from its “seven easy pieces” 1990s career-woman heyday.
Those looks won’t be on a catwalk, but they are the subject of an ad campaign featuring some of Ms. Karan’s favorite 1990s supermodels: Amber Valletta, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Liya Kebede. Well, that pre-smartphone decade is currently experiencing a fashion renaissance. Might as well remind the world of how influential this brand once was, even if it’s just a watered-down ghost of the original.
Other topics that will likely occupy the front row as its fixtures gossip and wait for shows to start: How much will this summer’s Paris Olympics color that city’s collections? What about the looming American election and concerns around A.I.? Who will get the top job at Givenchy, currently without a designer?
And what is going on with all the black-tie galas? Elena Velez is holding a two-hour-long costume ball and “salon” inspired by “Gone With the Wind.” Guests are asked to come in “rustic Americana black tie,” and all phones will be checked for the duration of the evening. This is a day after KidSuper had his own black tie gala to herald the opening of his new Brooklyn headquarters. All signs point to the Marc Jacobs direction: A new age of capital-D Dressing may be about to dawn.