Marc by Marc Jacobs at New York Fashion Week: A punchy fusion of tough and girly for a fresh generation

British duo behind the luxury line, Hillier and Bartley, target a new generation

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Indy Lifestyle Online

If there has been something of a singular voice to the New York spring/summer 2015 collections thus far - sports stuff, pastel colours, the bra top and trouser combo from a 2013 Balenciaga collection (we’ve seen that look everywhere) - there are still a few rebels in the pack, whose resolute refusal to conform to expectations manage to give the week a buzz.

Two of the ring-leaders are British: Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, the creative and design directors, respectively, of the Marc by Marc Jacobs line. This was their sophomore offering for the label, a plasteline-pumped show of vaguely eighties-tinged looks, models’ hair teased into a heckle of knots like a Bjork mohawk. 

The exact specifics of the garments - punchy, highlighter-hued slips and shirts in slippery lining nylon, cotton overcoats, plenty of latex (much of it sprayed with outsize aerosol-paint polka-dots) - weren’t that important. It was more about the attitude which, Bartley and Hiller said, was about a certain DIY punk ethos. “They’re little Alexes” said Luella Bartley, referencing Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange droogs as the models marched around the design studio in pre-show fittings. 

The template Hillier and Bartley have established for the label, a punchy fusion of tough and girly, is working. The label packs a press punch, and has a new verve and appeal to a fresh generation of 18-30 fans who’ll clamour for an oversized pink patent-leather pouch bag or patent bovver boot. None of which, all importantly, will cost too much in stores.

Thom Browne has never cared all that much about the cash you need to splash to don one of his frocks. Prices of his current winter collection vary from eye-watering to aneurysm-inducing: a sable and lace jacket costs £26,000; a beaded shift £9,000.

I don’t want to imagine what the cardigan suit bristling with trembling feathers will sell for, nor a houndstooth overcoat entirely embroidered with microscopic sequins, sent out in a twisted English garden party setting to a spoken word soundtrack. Perhaps they won’t. Yet, in a fashion week saturated with bland branding, these joyous and - most importantly - original clothes plastered smiles across even the most jaded faces.

Too many New York designers stick to tried and tested recipes that lack spice and originality
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