Perry Ellis is a brand undoubtedly for the preps. From their collared shirts to classic sportswear, it exudes a sort of squeaky-clean All-American vibe. And in terms of design, they’ve always leant on the side of tradition, the side of safety… that is, until Marc Jacobs’ infamous Spring Summer 1993 collection.
Jacobs was hired as creative director at Perry Ellis in 1988, and had kept in line with the brand’s clean-cut aesthetic for a couple of seasons, but this collection provided a complete 180 from the norm. He’d found his inspiration in a pretty unorthodox place: the Seattle grunge scene. Jacobs sent out billowy granny dresses, distressed flannels and tiny macrame shrugs. There were velvet chokers, slouchy beanies and thick chunky belts. High-profile models like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Christy Turlington literally stomped the runway in Dr. Marten’s.
It’s safe to say the audience was a tad confused.
The collection was subsequently panned — “Grunge is anathema to fashion. Rarely has slovenliness looked so self-conscious, or commanded so high a price,” wrote fashion critic Cathy Horyn in response to the show — and led to Jacobs getting the axe, but to this day he maintains that it’s one of his favourites.
Now, a quarter of a century later, he’s bringing it back. The designer’s 2019 Resort collection–aptly named Marc Jacobs Redux–launches next week and the lookbook is chock-full of direct replications from the 1992 show. Shot by longtime collaborator Juergen Teller, the images feature the likes of Gigi Hadid and Slick Woods as they carry the torch from the supermodels who posed in the garments before them.
You may be asking why Jacobs has decided to recreate a collection that got him fired, but over the years opinions on the iconic show have changed. Perry Ellis has since stated that the collection “changed the direction of contemporary womenswear” and even Horyn came around. In 2015 she published a piece on The Cut titled “Changing My Mind About Marc Jacobs’ Grunge Collection”. In it she writes, “I ignored, if I even considered, the charm and sweetness of the attitude–an attitude, by the way, which I happily embraced in my own brand of slob appeal.” She goes on to disclose that the only thing she could find wrong with the show at that point, was Jacobs’ effort in its timing.
The collection may have been ahead of its time and Jacobs may have flipped the Perry Ellis aesthetic too quickly. But in 2018, it seems the timing Horyn is talking about, could finally be just right.
“I’d never had any idea I’d be fired,” Jacobs told the New York Times about his dismissal. “But it’s still my favourite collection, because it marked a time when I went with my instincts against instructions, and I turned out to be right.”
The collection will be released November 15th in select stores and online.
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