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.

Marc Jacobs' 101 Dalmatians

Godfrey Deeny
February 15th, 2011 @ 1:13 PM - New York

The standard criticism tossed out about Marc Jacobs, who staged a heroic fashion show on Monday night, Feb. 14, in New York, is that even though he's a highly influential designer, he is none the less some sort of mere sampler.

It's a view not that often shouted out loud, given Jacobs' success and brilliant "night-time" job as creative director of Louis Vuitton - the world's most profitable luxury goods brand. But many fashion insiders regard Jacobs as a visitor of thrift shops whose collections are remixes and re-interpretations of other, earlier ideas, revamped for the present.

However, given, the sharp-edged brilliance of this fall 2011 collection, a thoroughly inventive series of chess pieced shaped silhouettes, a witty homage to the visual power of polka dots and intriguing meditation on arty paranoia, it should be abundantly clear to everyone what a great innovator Jacobs can be.

That paranoia was evident from the very setting, a long shiny catwalk, dissected by six huge columns, padded in white retro plastic, suggesting a high-end psychiatric ward in a '60s TV series. The hard edge of the fabrics also conjured up a sci-fi movie sensibility - with polyester shirts, rubber trousers and cordovan brogues.

The designer's big idea for fall is using polka dots, so many of the models almost looked like vertical Dalmatians. He employed spots in futurist skirts made of huge sequins, sexy tights, striking cellophane blouses or tweedy jackets.

Cut in a chess pawn piece like curvy-shouldered, below the knee proportion, the collection had a courtly quality, heightened by the fact that a score of the models in this 63-look collection - by the way, Jacobs' generally puts the most outfits on the runway of any major show in New York - wore charming berets, some with chinstraps, some in felt or beaver, many with spots.

The collection was a complete success right down to the stunning platform boots, with contrasting color wedge supports that were super chic and eminently practical for the sidewalks of New York, many still caked in black ice from a long, hard winter.

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